Thursday, 18 June 2009

Torture camp chief admits order to kill prisoners was from Pol Pot

Published Date: 18 June 2009
By Sopheng Cheang in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

KHMER Rouge leader Pol Pot personally ordered the killing and burning of four Western prisoners who were captured while sailing in Cambodian waters, a former prison chief on trial for crimes against humanity testified yesterday.

Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, who commanded the communist group's S-21 prison in Phnom Penh, told the UN-run hearing the prisoners were a Briton, an Australian, a New Zealander and an American.

Duch testified that Pol Pot, who died in 199ADVERTISEMENT8, personally ordered that they be executed and then burned, and that the order was conveyed by Nuon Chea, the regime's No 2 leader and chief ideologue, who has also been charged by the tribunal.

"I received an order from my superiors that the four Westerners had to be smashed and burned to ashes. It was an absolute order from my superiors," Duch said. "Pol Pot, not Uncle Nuon, personally ordered to burn the bodies."

Duch denied reports that the four Westerners had been burned alive. He said their bodies had been burned near the prison after they were executed.

Several Americans and Australians are listed, but only one New Zealander, Kerry Hamill, and one Briton, John Dewhirst.

He also testified that several days before the Khmer Rouge were overthrown by invading Vietnamese troops in early 1979 he was ordered to kill all inmates at the prison.

"The purpose was to have no prisoners left at S-21" when Vietnam's troops arrived, he said.

As many as 16,000 men, women and children were tortured at S-21 before being sent to their deaths during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 rule.

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