Survivor ‘Medic’ Gives a Contradictory Account of S-21

A woman who claims she work­ed as a medic at the S-21 detention center for two years told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Thursday that her entire family was killed within the prison compound.

In an occasionally contradictory account, civil party Nam Mon, 48, said that she and two brothers were employed at S-21, and that the brothers and four other family members were later imprisoned and killed there.

“My two elder brothers were used as guards at Tuol Sleng. They were ordered to kill my father,” she said. “I saw the event with my own eyes.”

However, Ms Mon said later that only one of her brothers was ordered to kill their father, and that she had only heard about the event from another medic.

She also seemed to claim intimate knowledge of her father’s treatment at S-21. “He was tortured severely, and I was traumatized and I could not work any longer,” she said, without describing how she knew he had been tortured.

During questioning, Ms Mon was not asked to detail what she saw at the prison during her work as a medic, and had dif­ficulty de­scribing where she work­ed within the S-21 compound. She also had trouble spec­ifying where in the prison she was detained after being ar­rested in 1978.

Ms Mon’s accounts of her in­ter­rogation differed from other sur­vivors who have spoken at the tribunal. She said that she was kept in her detention cell while being questioned, rather than be­ing taken to a separate interrogation room.

“During my interrogation I was not beaten with a stick but they tightened the shackle on my ankle,” she added, describing a torture technique that has not yet been outlined at the tribunal.

She said that she was later im­prisoned and tortured at Prey Sar, which is normally described as a Khmer Rouge hard labor camp.

“People who were sent to Prey Sar were allegedly not tortured. But it was just a pretext. Every­one would have been tortured before they were executed at Prey Sar,” Ms Mon said.

Before Ms Mon was brought into the court, civil party lawyer Silke Studzinsky said that she had learned within the last 10 days that her client’s account would be “broader” than what was described in her written statement.

“She is strongly willed to give a full testimony because she is less scared and dares to speak out what she could not do when she filled in the victim information form,” Ms Studzinsky told the court.

She added that she expected Ms Mon to be quite emotional. “She will face difficulties to continue. If she needs more time, this time should be granted, with­out calling on her to control her emotion.”

The request was an apparent reference to repeated instructions by Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn that weeping witnesses and civil parties should compose themselves.

Judge Silvia Cartwright seem­ed to bristle at the suggestion from Ms Studzinsky. “We are all very experienced judges and perhaps don’t need the advice that you give us,” she said.

Questioning of Ms Mon had to be ended early when she could not compose herself after being shown a prison photo of a man, apparently her father. She is sched­uled to continue her ac­count on Monday.

On Thursday morning, civil party Chin Meth continued her account of her forced labor at Prey Sar work camp, which was under the control of the accused, Kaing Guek Eav, best known as Duch.

Much of the questioning centered on Ms Meth’s imprisonment and interrogation at an un­known detention center. In her written statement, Ms Meth said that she knew she was detained at S-21, and that the prison’s head was named Duch.

However, she said Thursday that she only came to believe she was held at S-21 after her photograph was found there, but saw no proof of that during a recent visit to the Tuol Sleng museum.

“When I went to visit Tuol Sleng, I could not recognize whe­ther I was detained there,” Ms Meth said.

In a response, defendant Duch said that Ms Meth’s photograph was not taken at S-21, but only stored there. “The photo was taken in Prey Sar but developed in Phnom Penh.”

 

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