Former Khmer Rouge jailer returns to Cambodian ‘killing fields’

February 26th, 2008 - 5:06 pm ICT by admin  

Phnom Penh, Feb 26 (DPA) The jailed former commandant of one of the Khmer Rouge’s most notorious torture facilities returned to the “killing fields” Tuesday to walk court officials through his alleged crimes under heavy security. Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, has been charged with crimes against humanity for his role as commandant of the Khmer Rouge’s S-21 torture prison, or Toul Sleng, where up to 16,000 people were either tortured to death or transferred to Choueng Ek, the site of his visit Tuesday, to be killed and buried in mass graves.

He has been in military prison since 1999 but was only taken into custody by the joint UN-Cambodian Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) last year pending his as yet unscheduled hearing.

Dressed in the standard blue Cambodian prison uniform, Duch, 65, appeared frail and walked the rough ground scattered with mass graves with the assistance of a guard.

Court officials said he was accompanied by witnesses and co-investigating judges, but the investigation remains confidential and only one representative of the court was present. No journalists were allowed to follow and film the historic re-enactment.

The normally bustling tourist site was closed and up to 300 plain clothes and uniformed police blocked access to the area as the elderly man, who has reportedly expressed remorse for what happened, led the group around Choeung Ek, which translates as “champions”.

Up to 2 million Cambodians died during the Khmer Rouge’s 1975-79 failed drive to turn the nation into an agrarian utopia.

Five former senior leaders are currently in ECCC custody charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes. Hearings are expected to start later this year.

The court said in a statement last week that Duch would also return to Toul Sleng, which means “hill of poison fruit” in Khmer, Wednesday to complete the re-enactments.

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