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First Khmer Rouge prison survivor testifies

First Khmer Rouge prison survivor testifies

Cambodia's U.N.-backed war crimes trial yesterday heard its first testimony from one of only a handful of people to have survived the Khmer Rouge regime's notorious main prison.
Van Nath, 63, wept as he gave evidence at the trial of Duch, who is accused of overseeing the torture and extermination of 15,000 people who passed through the hardline communist movement's Tuol Sleng jail.
"The conditions were so inhumane and the food was so little," said Van Nath, who managed to survive the detention centre only because he was put to work painting pictures that glorified the 1975-1979 regime.
Duch slumped in his chair and looked on while Van Nath recounted his arrival at Tuol Sleng where he was photographed and then shackled with other prisoners.
"There were 20 or 30 of us in each row of shackles. The black clothes we were wearing, we were stripped of those clothes," Van Nath said.
"We only had three spoons of gruel for each meal. And the spoon was like a coffee spoon, it was not a normal rice spoon. I lost my dignity... Even with animals they would give enough food."
He said that he was arrested and tied up in 1977 by a local official before being taken to the jail, adding: "I asked him, what did I do wrong. He did not know."
Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, is accused of overseeing the torture and extermination of 15,000 people who passed through Tuol Sleng, which was located in a former high school in the capital Phnom Penh.


Updated : 2021-08-06 02:17 GMT+08:00