Photographer ‘Fabricated’ S-21 Testimony, Duch Says

Sworn evidence was read aloud at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Tuesday that former secret police chairman Kaing Guek Eav ordered corpses to be photographed and personally beat detainees.

However, the accused, also known as Duch, said the man who gave the testimony, S-21 photographer Nhem En, had fabricated much of his personal history, and the defense heaped scorn on Mr En, accusing him of being a disreputable character.

The court also heard its first live witness testimony concerning the alleged rape of an S-21 detainee.

Under questioning by prosecutors and civil party lawyers, Lach Me­an, a former guard and inter­ro­gator, said in his second day of test­imo­ny that he had seen fe­male de­tainees escorted to interrogations.

An interrogator named Touch failed to appear at mealtime one day and was discovered to have raped a woman under interrogation, leading Touch to attempt suicide, he said.

“He ran to the top of the building and he jumped on the ground, but he didn’t die as he fell onto the electric wires and he was arrested and detained,” Mr Mean said.

Court clerks were also asked to read aloud three sworn statements given to investigators by witnesses who have not been summoned to testify in person.

Court clerk Se Kolvuthy read aloud a statement by Mr En, 49, one of a team of photographers who documented the arrests of thousands of S-21 detainees.

The subject of a recent Academy Award-nominated documentary, Mr En has been publicly attacked for apparent efforts to reap financial gain from the Khmer Rouge period, including aborted plans for a private Khmer Rouge museum and a failed attempt to auction off Pol Pot’s sandals.

In six hours of testimony given to investigators at the tribunal premises in November 2007, Mr En said he had been selected to be sent to China for training as a photographer and had photographed senior leaders Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Son Sen, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith.

Duch had ordered other photographers to take pictures of corpses, he said. Mr En also claimed that while passing by on a bicycle he saw Duch personally beating and interrogating prisoners, statements that Duch did not challenge.

“I was riding [on] a bicycle and saw him beating up a prisoner in front of Tuol Sleng. My workplace was also in that same area so I saw it,” the state­ment said. “He tortured prisoners by beating them up with a rattan stick.”

Mr En was asked: “Did you stop your bike there to watch or just ride by and see it?”

“I rode by and saw it,” he replied.

French defense lawyer Francois Roux thanked the court for declining to summon the witness in person, saying Mr En was an un­scrupulous and unreliable person.

Asked to respond, Duch said Mr En had invented a more high-flying past for himself and had never been sent to China.

“There were some shortcomings, but however, the whole content is accurate,” said Duch. “The truth is that in 1976, Pol Pot sent his neph­ew to study photography in China. Nhem En was not part in that mission.”

“Nhem En was too proud,” he added.

 

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