Khmernews

Who Ordered Duch To Murder 4 Europeans And Burn Their Bodies Up?

Posted by khmernews on August 15, 2007

Mut Sruoch

So far, Pol Pot and Nuon Chea have always denied that they knew about the notorious S-21 torture center or Tuol Sleng prison. They even claimed that those piles of skulls and bones of Cambodian victims at Boeung Cheung Aek were not real.

According to Ta Mok, former Khmer Rouge (KR) commander, Pol Pot was the only person responsible for the mass murder in Tuol Sleng prison.

However, Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, head of Tuol Sleng prison, claimed that at least there were two other [KR] leaders who gave orders to him directly, including the order to kill 4 Europeans and to burn their bodies up.

“Pol Pot was Brother Number 1, Nuon Chea was Brother Number 2, Ieng Sary was Brother Number 3, So Pim was Brother Number 4, and I was Brother Number 5. Therefore, although there were discussions, Brother Number one made all the decisions in Cambodia at that time,” Khmer Rouge history researchers quoted KR Commander Ta Mok as saying in his interview with Nate Thayer when he was controlling Anlong Veng in 1997.

Ta Mok said that the killings were decided by Pol Pot alone and that he didn’t ask for advice from anyone else “since” Nuon Chea didn’t know anything and Son Sen too knew nothing. Only two people, Pol Pot and the prison commandant, captured people to execute in Tuol Sleng prison.

However, documents left in Tuol Sleng prison and answers from living witnesses suggest that Son Sen was the KR defence minister and Nuon Chea was the deputy-secretary of the communist party, and that they were the people to whom Duch had to report and from whom Duch received orders to practise in Tuol Sleng prison.

“Nuon Chea and Pol Pot were always sending their messengers to Tuol Sleng prison to help finding out the network of the betrayers,” Duch told Nate Thayer. “Nuon Chea’s and Pol Pot’s messengers were very powerful,” said Duch, adding that sometimes those messengers instructed him on what to do at Tuol Sleng prison.  

Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, also claimed that Nuon Chea had ordered to kill 4 European “prisoners” arrested on the sea. Nuon Chea didn’t only order to kill them, but also commanded to burn those bodies of the four foreigners up, Duch said.

According to Duch, the “brutal” Nuon Chea gave the reasons that: “In Cuba, the Cuban government kept American dead bodies in exchange for foods. In Yuon (Vietnam), dead bodies of foreigners have caused many problems. As a result, Cambodia doesn’t want to keep the bodies of the foreigners since they might cause problems in the future.”

“In the third year, Nuon Chea ordered to capture 300 KR soldiers to Tuol Sleng prison,” Duch told Nate Thayer. Duch said that Nuon Chea phoned him to say that it was no worth to interrogate [those soldiers] and tell him to destroy them all.

However, Nuon Chea denied committing this. “I was in the National Assembly… The mistake was that the national assembly failed to examine carefully and visit the people. It was impossible for the assembly to try anyone. I was the deputy in the communist party. I only had right to ask for firing someone from the party or lowering their position, and hardly did the party have rights to order to kill anyone.”

Even though Nuon Chea is trying to deny, Kaing Guek Eav’s answer which claimed that Pol Pot and Son Sen had ordered him to kill prisoners in Tuol Sleng fitted with Ieng Sary’s answer Ieng Sary told Stephen Heder on December 17, 1996. “The people related to giving the killing order in Tuol Sleng prison were Nuon Chea, Pol Pot and Son Sen,” Ieng Sary said at that time. 

Meanwhile, Nhem En, former photographer in Tuol Sleng prison, said that Nuon Chea must have known what had happened in Tuol Sleng prison.

While the KR leaders are trying to find excuse, reports on Tuol Sleng prison’s crimes have been revealed one after another, and the KR Tribunal is also moving forward gradually.

Adhoc’s Khmer Rouge Tribunal coordinator has noticed that after the Co-Prosecutors submitted the Introductory Submission which contains five suspects’ names along with names of 350 witnesses, the KR Tribunal hasn’t taken any action to ensure safety of the witnesses.

“If there are no measures taken to ensure witnesses’ safety, it will become a problem which could make the witnesses lose faith on their personal safety,” pointed out the coordinator, adding that the subpoenas to the 350 witnesses, as a result, may become a challenge.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Moneaksekar, Vol. 14, #3236, Tuesday, August 14, 2007.

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