Inside the Mind of Pol Pot’s Henchman
Posted on Feb 11, 2008
Thousands of Cambodians were tortured and killed under Pol Pot’s horrific Khmer Rouge regime, and now one of the major players from that reign of torture and terror, Kang Khek Ieu, may face justice for his role in the deaths of about 17,000 people. Here, The Independent’s Valerio Pellizzari hears the firsthand account during a rare interview with “Duch,” who could soon stand trial for mass murder.
And even as he waits to confront the proof of his crimes, it is clear that, for him, there was never any choice: anybody who was thought to pose a threat to the revolution had to be tortured and killed. Asked whether he had any moments of uncertainty, any doubts or feelings of rebellion while he set about wiping out his country’s entire intellectual class, he answered: “There was a widespread and tacit understanding.
“I and everyone else who worked in that place knew that anyone who entered had to be psychologically demolished, eliminated by steady work, given no way out. No answer could avoid death. Nobody who came to us had any chance of saving himself.”
The command had come from above, he said. “All the prisoners had to be eliminated. We saw enemies, enemies, enemies everywhere.” He could not have rebelled or fled, he insisted. “If I had tried to flee, they were holding my family hostage, and my family would have suffered the same fate as the other prisoners in Tuol Sleng. If I had fled or rebelled it would not have helped anyone.”
AP photo / Heng Sinith
“Duch” on the stand: Kang Khek Ieu appears at a hearing in Phnom Penh in November 2007.