The government should spare no time in interviewing Comrade Duch, former chief of the Khmer Rouge’s Tuol Sleng torture center, in the event that he should die without revealing key evidence for a future tribunal, a legal expert said Wednesday.
Hospitalized last week, Duch, whose real name is Kaing Khek Iev, has been diagnosed with prostate adenome, an enlargement of the prostate gland, said Preah Ket Melea Hospital Director Kao Try. Kao Try said the condition made it difficult for Duch to urinate, so a catheter was inserted into his urinary tract to help him empty his bladder.
“The doctor will take the tube out Thursday to see if he can urinate,” Kao Try said. “If he still has problems, we will send him to Calmette Hospital for an operation.”
Kao Try said he must be very careful with Duch, “because if something happens to him, we will be accused of doing something bad to him.”
Duch’s hospitalization has highlighted standing concerns over the health of aging former Khmer Rouge leaders.
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodia Defenders Project, said that Duch should be interviewed immediately.
“They need his testimony about who ordered the killings,” he said. “I think it could be used [for the Khmer Rouge tribunal].”
Duch, 63, has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest in 1999.
If the government videotaped Duch’s testimony, it would at least alleviate the impact his death could have on future proceedings, Sok Sam Oeun said.
He also questioned the length of Duch’s detention, noting that under Cambodian law a person can only be held in pre-trial detention for six months.