Former S-21 guard Him Huy on Monday was buffeted by challenges to his credibility from civil party and defense lawyers, who accused him of beating detainees, lying and giving false testimony about the accused’s actions at the Choeung Ek killing fields.
On the final day of his testimony, Mr Huy, 54, now a Kandal province farmer, nevertheless received the support of the accused, former secret police chairman Kaing Guek Eav, who said the witness’ account had been truthful, suffering only minor “shortcomings.”
Both defense and civil party lawyers asked Mr Huy to respond to claims by S-21 survivor Bou Meng, a civil party who claimed that Mr Huy had beaten him during his detention at the Tuol Sleng facility.
Silke Studzinsky, a lawyer representing group 18 civil parties at the trial, confronted Mr Huy with Mr Meng’s claim to have been beaten.
“Mr Bou Meng, who was prisoner and who was tortured in S-21, said he was tortured by Him Huy,” she said. “Can you confirm this statement that he was ill treated and beaten by you?”
“I was not entitled the right to interrogate any detainee, so I could not be in position to torture any of the detainees,” responded Mr Huy.
Ms Studzinsky cited records of a judicial confrontation in February last year between the accused, best known as Duch, and witnesses, during which she said, Mr Huy had admitted to abusing detainees.
“I want to know why did you tell this lie to the co-investigating judges in February last year?” she asked.
Mr Huy said he and other S-21 staff had jovially mocked Mr Meng’s small stature and challenged him to prove his strength by carrying Mr Huy on his shoulders.
“I have never beaten him because I was not vested with any authority to beat any detainee,” he said.
Duch said Mr Huy’s testimony had passed muster.
“I can conclude that the basic truth has been already revealed but still there are shortcomings, although the shortcomings are not significant,” said Duch.
“I confirm that all these testimonies are true but I think he should not have said something about the arguments between [S-21 deputy chairman] comrade Hor and me,” said Duch. “He did not witness that.”
Defense lawyer Francois Roux also challenged Mr Huy’s account of his treatment of Mr Meng, saying that at the 2008 confrontation Mr Meng had shown investigators scars on his back which he said came from beatings partly administered by Mr Huy.
Mr Huy maintained that he had never beaten Mr Meng or intended to harm him.
Mr Roux also challenged Mr Huy’s testimony that Duch had visited the Choeung Ek killing fields twice and personally ordered Mr Huy to carry out an execution.
Mr Roux again referred to the Mr Huy’s statements of last year.
“You stated at the location first that Duch came to Choeung Ek from time to time, and then in answer to questions, you said that he came once or twice,” said Mr Roux. “In answer to a question that was put to you by the defense, you said that you did not know whether he came more than once.”
“I saw Duch go there on two occasions,” said Mr Huy. “I still stand on my statement.”