Khmer leader leads judges to killing fields

Khmer Rouge's notorious chief interrogator leads judges on tour to 'killing fields' ahead of UN-backed war crimes trials

The Khmer Rouge's notorious chief interrogator wept yesterday as he led judges from Cambodia's genocide tribunal on a tour of the "killing fields" peppered with the mass graves of his alleged victims.

Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, broke down before a tree at the Choeung Ek site where a sign explains executioners used the trunk to smash infants' skulls.

The visit was to gather evidence for the UN-backed war crimes trials against five senior Khmer Rouge leaders for their role in the deaths of 1.7m Cambodians during the regime's four-year reign of terror.

Duch, 66, last visited the site when the Vietnamese army swept the Khmer Rouge from the capital into the jungle. Charged with crimes against humanity, he yesterday led 80 judges, lawyers and officials through the killing fields.

The victims were brought from Tuol Sleng S-21 detention centre in trucks after confessing to non-existent crimes under torture allegedly directed by Duch, who ensured records were kept of every inmate. The camp commandant, who allegedly sat beneath a tree while the executioners worked, led the judges to the graves in pits where fragments of bone remain.

Duch was arrested in 1999, a year after the death of the Khmer Rouge chief Pol Pot, and was held in a military prison until last year.


Ian MacKinnon, south-east Asia correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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