Khmer Rouge chief denies murder charge

A witness at Cambodia\’s UN-backed war crimes court has testified that the former prison chief for the Khmer Rouge regime executed his uncle at a secret jungle camp.


The prison chief known as Duch – whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav – charged in response that the testimony was fabricated.

Chan Veoun, 56, said he saw the jailer, known as Duch, kill his uncle while he himself was collecting food at the prison camp, M-13, in the early 1970s.

“He was my uncle. He was shot by Duch. He killed him in front of my eyes,” Chan Veoun said, weeping. He did not give a reason for the slaying.

Last month Duch apologised at the start of his trial, accepting blame for overseeing the extermination of 15,000 people who passed through the regime\’s main prison, Tuol Sleng.

He has maintained however that he never personally executed anyone and has only admitted to abusing two people.

Chan Veoun told the court Duch regularly beat prisoners and once stripped a woman to her waist to burn her breasts with a torch soaked in gasoline.

Once, he added, prisoners kept shackled in pits were once left to drown in rainy season floods.

Duch denied his accounts, saying he recognised Chan Veoun but the witness had never worked under him.

“This is a complete fabrication – probably of what he heard and (he) added something on top,” Duch told the court.

“About the crimes committed at (M-13) I cannot forget it. It is a serious matter that affects me psychologically.”

The court has been hearing evidence about M-13, which Duch ran during the 1971 to 1975 Khmer Rouge insurgency against then then US-backed government, to better understand Tuol Sleng\’s organising structure.

The Khmer Rouge were in power in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, when Duch is accused of supervising Tuol Sleng prison and sending thousands of people to their deaths in the so-called “Killing Fields.”

The former mathematics teacher has denied assertions by prosecutors that he played a central role in the Khmer Rouge\’s iron-fisted rule.

He faces life in jail at the court, which does not have the power to impose the death penalty.

Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998, and many believe the UN-sponsored tribunal is the last chance to find justice for victims of the regime, which killed up to two million people.