Former S-21 guard Him Huy yesterday told an audience of Khmer Rouge survivors in Phnom Penh that he, too, was a victim of the Pol Pot-led regime because he was forced to work at the detention center and beat detainees.
“They forced me to guard at Tuol Sleng,” the 54-year-old said to villagers gathered at the Senate who traveled from Banteay Meanchey, Kandal and Svay Rieng provinces. “I requested to be in the military but they refused.”
In an interview after his talk, Mr Huy contradicted testimony he gave at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in July, when he confessed to personally executing a detainee at the Choeung Ek killing fields on the order of a senior S-21 official.
“I would like to inform that I did not kill,” Mr Huy said after the half-day event, which was organized by Documentation Center of Cambodia and included a 10-minute talk by Mr Huy.
He admitted yesterday to beating a total of five prisoners, saying he was ordered to do so.
“They ordered me to beat. If we don’t follow them, they would have killed us,” said Mr Huy, who testified that he arrived at S-21 in 1976 as a lowly combatant, but was eventually put in charge of the transportation of prisoners to the prison as well as to mass graves.
“We also requested to leave from there to avoid committing the bad action. First we requested to leave but they refused.”
Neou Phanra, a 54-year-old villager in the audience, said Mr Huy had done wrong but could not take all the blame for his actions.
“He was stupid [to be part of] that regime. He did not think clearly,” said the Banteay Meanchey villager in an interview at the end of yesterday’s event.
“He was a pedal of the leader and committed the crime directly when he received an order from the leader,” added Mr Phanra, who said his older sister and many relatives were killed during the Khmer Rouge years.
Ki Sary, a 53-year-old villager who is also from Banteay Meanchey province, said he could not decide if Mr Huy had killed anyone.
“We don’t know whether he killed the people or not because we did not stay with him,” said Mr Sary, who was unaware of the former guard’s July testimony. Mr Sary said his father and many relatives died under the communist-led regime.