S-21 Guard Grilled Over Baby Killing Claims

A defense lawyer at the Khmer Rouge tribunal grilled a former prison guard on Thursday over a range of claims the witness made at the court this week, including that babies and young children were murdered behind Phnom Penh’s S-21 security center.

Under questioning on Tuesday and Wednesday, Him Huy described a wide range of atrocities committed at S-21, where more than 12,000 people are thought to have been sent to their deaths. He said that babies and children were executed near the prison compound, while their mothers were slain at the Choeung Ek killing fields.

On Thursday, Victor Koppe, a defense lawyer for Khmer Rouge second-in-command Nuon Chea—who is on trial for crimes including genocide alongside head of state Khieu Samphan—questioned Mr. Huy at length over the killing of children.

“Have you seen with your own eyes that at the S-21 premises children were killed?” Mr. Koppe asked.

“No, I did not. However, everyone said they were killed behind the prison,” Mr. Huy replied.

Asked repeatedly by the Dutch lawyer to explain how he obtained this information, Mr. Huy failed to give a concrete answer, saying only that S-21 deputy chief Hor ordered the killings and that a guard named Peng carried them out.

During earlier testimony, the witness explained that killing techniques were taught to guards and interrogators at S-21. Yesterday, he added that “moral principles” were instilled into the staff during “study sessions,” including the importance of avoiding unsanctioned sexual “affairs” with women.

“In general, we were taught that principle. Since the beginning, we had to be vigilant. We had to have a tough stance, and if anyone violated that and had affairs with a woman, the person would be arrested and detained,” he said.

The court is now adjourned until May 23 due to a planned recess and to allow defense teams to prepare for upcoming witnesses.

One of those witnesses is expected to be S-21 chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, who became the first Khmer Rouge official to be found guilty at the tribunal in 2010.

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