S-21 Security Centre

Democratic Kampuchea Zone
Democratic Kampuchea District
Democratic Kampuchea Sector
Current Day District
Current Day Province Phnom Penh  
Alleged Crimes Crimes against humanity  (Other Inhumane Acts through "Attacks against human dignity"EnslavementExterminationImprisonmentMurderOther Inhumane Acts through RapeOther Inhumane Acts through Forced MarriagePersecution on Political GroundsPersecution on Racial GroundsTorture)Grave Breaches of Geneva Conventions of 1949  (Inhumane treatmentTortureUnlawful confinement of a civilianUnlawful deportation of a civilianWilful killingWilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or healthWilfully depriving a prisoner of war or a civilian the rights of fair regular trial)

[Disclaimer: The content in Closing Orders are allegations, which need to be proven through adversarial hearings. As such, the allegations below can not be treated as facts unless they have been established through a final judgment.]

Location and creation
415. The S-21 security centre (S-21) was composed of a detention centre in Phnom Penh and an execution site (Choeng Ek) located some 15 kilometres to the south-west of Phnom Penh, in Kandal province. Prey Sar (S-24) was a labour camp under S-21 and is discussed in a separate section of the Closing Order. 

416. On 15 August 1975, Son Sen summoned Duch and In Lorn alias Nat, of Division 703 of the RAK, to a meeting at the Phnom Penh railway station. The purpose of the meeting was to establish S-21. S-21 became fully operational in October 1975 and remained in operation until 7 January 1979, when Duch, the staff and detainees working in S-21 fled.

417. The detention centre was originally located in Boeng Keng Kang 3 Subdistrict at the junction of streets 163 and 360. Late in November 1975, S-21 was transferred to the headquarters of the national police, and then, in January 1976, it was moved back to its original location. In April 1976, the detainees were finally relocated – at Duch’s behest and with Son Sen’s approval – to the premises of Pohnea Yat Lycée, which is now the site of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. The main building (Building E) was used for the reception, registration and photographing of prisoners. A room in this building was set up for producing paintings and sculptures to glorify the regime. Buildings B, C and D housed the general prison population, either in tiny individual cells built of wood or brick, or in larger collective cells. The block to the south of the former lycée and later building A, was called the “Special Prison” and was used to hold important detainees. The whole compound was surrounded by a fence and protected by armed guards. Many other buildings were also part of S-21 and were located in a second outer perimeter, which was also protected by armed guards. They included, for example, the houses for interrogators, execution sites and mass graves, messes, a “medical centre”, several offices and houses for Duch and a house for receiving prisoners.


418. At the beginning, executions were carried out either inside or near S-21. On an unknown date between 1976 and mid-1977, Duch decided that prisoners would henceforth be executed in Choeng Ek. However, even after Choeng Ek became the main execution site, some prisoners were still executed and buried within the confines of S-21or nearby.

 

Operation

Organization and personnel
419. During the meeting of 15 August 1975, Son Sen appointed Nat as Chairman of S-21 and Secretary of its Committee and Duch as Vice-Chairman in charge of the group of interrogators. The detainees were brought to the S-21 interrogation unit from the Ta Kmao Psychiatry Hospital, which In Lorn alias Nat, with his Division 703 staff, used as a detention centre. In March 1976, Nat was appointed to a position at the General Staff and Duch replaced him as Chairman of S-21 and Secretary of the S-21 Committee. Duch maintained Khim Vat alias Hor in the position of deputy in charge of the daily management of S-21. Nun Huy alias Huy Sre was the third member of the S-21 Committee; he was also in charge of S¬24. As chairman, Duch was in charge of choosing personnel and provided training, particularly political training, for the staff. Duch also taught S-21 personnel interrogation methods and techniques for executing detainees.

420. Duch ran S-21 on the basis of a hierarchy and set up a sytem for transmitting information at all levels, thereby ensuring that his orders were immediately and precisely followed. S-21 was divided into several units: the Interrogation Unit; the Documentation Unit (responsible for registering and maintining records); the Defence Unit, which had two sub¬units, the Guard Unit (responsible for guarding the detainees within the prison complex) and the Special Unit. The Special Unit had several duties: it received people who were sent to S¬21 or, in some cases, made arrests or transferred prisoners; it intervened in emergencies and escorted prisoners to Choeng Ek and carried out executions.

421. S-21 was both a political and military establishment. Duch states that S-21 was an independent military regiment under the direct control of the General Staff as regards administrative functions, and other matters such as food production, personnel, and training, but was also under the control of the Standing Committee for its duties in regard to security. Duch reiterated on numerous occasions that from March 1976 to 15 August 1977, his superior was Son Sen, who was replaced by Nuon Chea from that date until the regime ended. Relations between Duch and his superiors are set out in detail in the section of the Closing Order regarding Nuon Chea.

422. S-21 was a very important security centre in Democratic Kampuchea: it was considered to be an organ of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (“CPK”); its management reported to the highest echelons of the Party; it conducted activities on a national scale, and senior-level cadres and important prisoners were held there.
Arrests and detentions
Composition of the Incarcerated Population

423. According to the revised prisoners list, at least 12,273 persons are known to have been detained at S-21. 5,994 were reported to be male, 1,698 female and 89 children.

424. The majority of prisoners were Cambodian. The most prominent group was former RAK members (5,609 entries in the revised prisoners list). The purges within the military often led to RAK members of all ranks being sent to S-21. Former RAK members detained at S-21 originated from Divisions 164, 170, 174, 290, 310, 450, 502, 503, 801 and 920, as well as from independent regiments 152, 377 and 488. Personnel from the General Staff were likewise sent to S-21. The evidence also shows that 156 S-21 personnel were imprisoned at S-21. Furthermore, it appears that at least 47 S-24 personnel were sent to S-21.

425. The second largest group of detainees was composed of CPK cadres (4,371 entries in the revised prisoners list). It appears that the following zone secretaries were detained at S-21: Ruos Nheum (June 1978); Men San alias Ya (September 1976); and Klang Chap alias Se (August 1978). Members of the Standing Committee included: Vorn Vet (November 1978); and Kung Sophal alias Keu alias Kan (November 1978). Finally, secretaries of autonomous sectors included: Bou Phat alias Hang (June 1978); Born Nan alias Yi (June 1978); Pa Phal alias Sot (February 1977); and the former Minister of Propaganda, Hu Nim (April 1977).

426. Within the group of former CPK cadres, at least 209 persons detained at S-21 came from Office 870 and S-71, as well as from the following sub-ordinate offices: the telegram operation unit, the Offices under S-71 with the code numbers K-1 to K-18 (and particularly from Ta Lei village, part of K-13), Yo10 (the military unit in charge of protecting CPK leaders) and Stoeng Meanchey and the former B-20. The first arrest was reported on 27 July 1976 and the last was reported on 19 December 1978.

427. Before their arrest, at least 113 prisoners were directly under the authority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including those who were at its M-1 Office at Chraing Chamres after having been recalled from DK embassies abroad (the first arrest was dated September 1976 and the last on December 1978). At least 16 prisoners were arrested from Boeng Trabek and associated offices K-15 and K-17 (the first arrest was dated December 1975 and the last on June 1978).

428. Throughout the DK era, at least 482 prisoners were arrested from the Ministry of Commerce or from local or central commercial units attached to it, such as fisheries, clothing, government warehouses, transport and the Kampong Som Seaport. The first reported arrest was on October 1975 and the last was reported on March 1978.

429. 116 detainees were former personnel of the Ministry of Social Affairs or its hospitals and sub¬units, including Pha-1, Pha-2 at Chroy Changva, Pha-3 (Psah Cha), Pha 4, Po-17 (17 April Hospital), Po-1 (Calmette), Po-2, Po-3, Po-4 (later Po-6), Ph-5 and the Malaria eradication office. The first arrest was recorded in September 1976, and the last was recorded at the end of December 1978, with a peak in arrests in 1978.

430. At least 84 detainees were arrested from the Ministry of Propaganda and Education and its sub-units, including offices codes K-25 to K-38, which designated printing presses, the DK radio station, performing arts troupes and journalist groups. The first recorded arrest was on 21 September 1976, and the last was dated 23 May 1978, with an increase in the number of arrests between February and May 1978.

431. The CPK cadres and the members of the RAK who were arrested came from all zones and autonomous sectors of Cambodia. The numbers increased with the waves of purges, as arrests increasingly targeted higher-level cadres and military commanders. Thus, the number of prisoners coming from the former Central (Old North) Zone rose to 360 prisoners for the whole period, with more than 80 arrests in February 1977 (the month after Koy Thuon’s arrest). Sector 106 accounted for 75 arrests with a peak in March 1977. Some of those arrested were mentioned by Koy Thuon in his confession in which he listed his “traitorous network”. Finally, for the East Zone, the number rose to 1,165 arrests with close to 500 arrests in the month of June 1978, which corresponds to the suicide of Sao Phim.
 
432. In addition to the former members of the RAK and the former CPK cadres, other Cambodians appeared in the lists, in particular, former soldiers and cadres of the Khmer Republic or of FUNK (National United Front of Cambodia) 328 entries in the revised list, teachers, professors, students, doctors, lawyers or engineers (279 entries), people detained because of family ties (876 entries), and a certain number of people whose origin could not be established.

433. A certain number of foreign nationals were also detained at S-21, such as Thais, Laotians, Indians and “Westerners”. Amongst the foreigners, Vietnamese were the majority. The revised prisoners list mentions the names of at least 345 detainees described as Vietnamese, listing 122 soldiers and 144 “spies” (civilians or combatants). For the remaining 79 detainees (including women and children), who were probably civilians, there is no indication of their status. The presence of Vietnamese at S-21 is similarly confirmed by witnesses, confessions, and photographs. The first arrest of a person described as Vietnamese appears in the registrers on 7 February 1976. Duch states, however, that a small number of Vietnamese were sent to S-21 as early as 1975, and specified that their numbers grew as the conflict with Vietnam escalated.

Arrest and transfer to S-21
434. For the arrest and transfer of CPK cadres and RAK members from autonomous regions or zones, two methods were used. In some cases, S-21 personnel would go to the zones and make arrests, or collect prisoners arrested by the zone units, and then return to Phnom Penh. In other cases, CPK cadres and RAK members were summoned to Phnom Penh by Office 870 and in particular by Nuon Chea (officially for a meeting), and they disappeared, never to be seen again. In the vast majority of cases, cadres passed through K-7 before being taken to S-21 by members of units under S-71. For the Phnom Penh units, and particularly ministries and units of the Centre, it appears that beyond those cases where arrests were carried out by S-21, members of S-71 units were also responsible for the arrests. In some instances, they also passed through K-7. Sometimes, the ministries were charged with transporting prisoners from their own departments to S-21. Duch confirms that as a rule, “S-21 [did not] have the right to arrest people”, adding that, in most cases, he was simply informed of an arrest by the higher echelon so that he could organize the reception of the prisoners. Apart from cases in which S-21 made arrests as described below, Duch was notified that prisoners were due to arrive through lists, which were prepared and sent by Son Sen, Nuon Chea or Ken alias Lin.

435. S-21 personnel themselves sometimes made arrests. According to Him Huy, where S-21 made arrests outside its premises, but within Phnom Penh, there were two possible scenarios: either his unit made the arrest, or, if the arrest had already been made, his unit was only responsible for the transfer of the prisoners to S-21. Him Huy states that he was dispatched from Phnom Penh on several occasions to bring prisoners to S-21, and in each of these cases, Duch gave him a list of the people to be arrested. Duch states that whenever necessary, a special S-21 unit left Phnom Penh bearing an order issued by the Central Committee and a special pass signed by Son Sen, authorising it to bring prisoners back to S-21. However, he adds that this system was subsequently discontinued. Furthermore, Duch explains that he was sometimes consulted and was involved in the planning of arrests, particularly when it involved arresting a large number of people within one unit, or when the persons to be arrested were prominent members of the Party. Lastly, the arrests of some important persons, such as Koy Thuon and Pang, took place in Duch’s house.

436. Duch indicates that when the decision to make an arrest was made, secrecy and trickery were mandatory in order to avoid leaks, and prevent any attempts to resist, especially when a large number of people had to be arrested in the same location. In such cases, according to Duch, he asked Hor to speak to the head of the unit and urged him to “calm the staff” and make sure that he was methodical in making the arrests.

Arrest of Vietnamese civilians and soldiers 
437. The Arrest of Vietnamese civilians and soldiers generally took place in the main conflict zone (along the border with Vietnam) or nearby. Former military commander [REDACTED] says: “all of the Vietnamese soldiers who were captured along the border near Svay Rieng and Prey Veng Provinces were sent to Phnom Penh. Initially, they were sent to Rèn At the decision headquarters, and he decided what was to be done with them …  I think this group was sent to Duch at S-21, but I am not certain, because at that time we seemed to be in a dark world; many things happened that we did not know about, and movement was extremely strict”. 

438. It appears that at least some, if not all, of the Vietnamese civilians and soldiers arrested in the main conflict zone were detained at S-21. Duch explains that he was only informed of their arrival in the same way that he was informed of the arrival of the other prisoners, namely by way of lists, and that S-21 was never required to organise the transportation of the Vietnamese from the theatre of operations. This claim is contradicted by Him Huy, who states that on two occasions, in 1977 and 1978, Duch sent him to the battlefront in Svay Rieng to escort Vietnamese soldiers to S-21 Furthermore, [REDACTED] states that he was sent to work on the border in 1977 and saw S-21 personnel transporting Vietnamese prisoners of war in S-21 trucks from the theatre of operations.
Arrests of S-21 personnel

439. S-21 personnel were also arrested and either sent to S-24 for reeducation, or imprisoned in S-21. Cadres could be sent to S-24 for minor offences, especially when someone they knew was detained at S-21. For more serious offences, such as allowing a prisoner’s escape, death or suicide before interrogation, the person responsible was considered as a traitor to the revolution, and was arrested. However, some witnesses suggest that the majority of S-21 staff members who were arrested, specifically those from Division 703, had not actually committed a serious offence.

440. A former guard states that only Duch could order the arrest of S-21 personnel. However, Duch maintains that “The S-21 Committee was competent for the first form of purge (sending a staff member to S-24). Conversely, Son Sen, and later Nuon Chea, were competent for the second form of purge (imprisoning a staff member in S-21)”.

Detention conditions
441. Prisoners arrived in S-21 almost daily in groups and at all times of the day or night. The Special Unit escorted them into the prison, usually handcuffed and blindfolded. The prisoners were then registered by the Documentation Unit. They then had to provide biographical information and a summary of their answers was prepared. Generally, they were not informed of the reasons for their arrest. Upon arrival, the prisoners were also photographed. They were then escorted to their cells by the guards.

442. The prisoners were locked up practically 24 hours per day. The detention centre had small individual cells and collective cells holding 20 to 30 detainees, and possibly more. In the collective cells, the prisoners were shackled and chained to one another by their feet. Women detainees were not shackled, except for those who were resisted. Couples and families, including children, were separated. All of the prisoners were under constant watch by armed guards and received very strict instructions to avoid any escape attempts. Although a number of former guards have stated that they were not allowed to strike detainees, this rule was not always followed.

443. Prisoners were not allowed to talk amongst themselves or to the guards. Upon arrival at S-21, they were forced to strip to their underwear. They were prohibited from exercising, or from leaving their cells. The prisoners had no beds, and most of them had to sleep on the bare concrete floor. Many detainees suffered greatly from mosquito bites. The detainees were not authorized to wash themselves under adequate conditions of hygiene, and “washing up” consisted of spraying the room with water, using a hosepipe from the doorway. Confined to their cells, detainees urinated and defecated in the jerry-cans and ammunition boxes provided.

444. Food was insufficient and inadequate, and the prisoners were malnourished. Only guards and important prisoners were better fed than the others. These conditions caused significant physical deterioration and a number of prisoners died as a result. Duch explains that decisions regarding food were made by the “higher echelon” and that he was not allowed to change the set rations. According to him, the practice of denying the detainees food was based on deliberate CPK policy.

445. Many of the prisoners suffered from illnesses and wounds. Basic medical care was provided by a small “medical” team, which had not studied medicine, and worked without the supervision of doctors. Many prisoners who needed urgent medical assistance were left uncared for, or were given inadequate treatment. Medicine stocks were extremely limited, and when there were any at all, the medicines were manufactured locally by unqualified persons. S-21 employees also conducted medical experiments on prisoners.

446. A small number of detainees were forced to work within the S-21 premises. They were employed in the mechanics’ and artists’ workshops, working long hours, under the constant watch of guards, without freedom of movement and under the threat of punishment if they failed to produce what was considered satisfactory work. Witnesses state that there was a slight improvement in their food, and their general detention conditions, once they began to work.

447. Prisoners lived in constant fear of being punished, taken away, beaten, interrogated and executed. The living conditions described above led to the death of detainees in many instances. Some prisoners also attempted to commit suicide because of these conditions.

Interrogations
448. Most S-21 prisoners were systematically interrogated. These interrogations were carried out by S-21 personnel in their official capacity. Once the prisoners had been allocated cells, the interrogators would take them from their cells and escort them, blindfolded, to the interrogation rooms. The prisoners were required to provide biographies to the interrogaters and respond to the accusations that had led to their arrest. Not all interrogations were recorded in the form of written confessions, and there was no general rule about the number of times a detainee could be interrogated, or on the duration of the interrogations. Interrogation sessions did not end until the confessions made by the prisoner were considered to be “satisfactory”, and prisoners could be interrogated repeatedly and ordered to rewrite their confessions several times.

449. In general, Duch or the S-21 personnel had the autonomy to decide whether to use violence and ill treatment, except for important prisoners or those in whom the superiors had a special interest, in which case they would issue specific instructions.

450. Duch explains that he had introduced three interrogation methods to be used by the interrogation teams: the “cold” method, the “hot” method, and the “chewing” method. The cold method consisted of interrogating a prisoner by use of propaganda, without using ill-treatment or insults. The hot method explicitly included “insults, beatings and other torture authorized by the regulations”. The chewing method was an intermediate technique consisting of “gentle explanations in order to establish trust/confidence, followed by prayers to the interrogated person, continually inviting her or him to write”. Ill treatment was also allowed.

451. The use of ill treatment during interrogations was frequent and has been acknowledged by Duch and the interrogators; it is also confirmed by many documentary records from S-21. Two former S-21 prisoners, Chum Mey and Bou Meng, explain that they suffered serious ill-treatment during their interrogation, which they described both during the judicial investigation and in detail before the Trial Chamber. It was shown that ill-treatment increased when detainees did not provide confessions as anticipated. Additionally, any confession that was not sufficiently precise, or did not mention the name of another “traitor”, was considered unacceptable.

452. The interrogators used several forms of torture to extract confessions from the detainees. According to Duch, four methods were authorized: blows, electric shocks, a plastic bag over the head, and pouring water into the nose. However, it appears that other forms of ill-treatment were used in addition to these four methods, including some which, according to Duch, were forbidden at S-21. Thus, fingers and toenails of persons undergoing interrogation were punctured and removed; at least one prisoner was allegedly fed excrement and others were forced to drink their urine; a cold water and fan technique was used; as well as a technique consisting of undressing prisoners and applying an electric current to their genitals and ears. The practice of forcing detainees to pay homage to dogs with the head of Ho Chi Minh or of Lyndon B. Johnson was considered by the Trial Chamber in Case 001 as having caused deep humiliation and severe mental distress in the Cambodian cultural context. Furthermore, Vann Nath remembers seeing a guard take a prisoner to a crossbeam, hang him from a rope and immerse his head in a water jar . Duch and the interrogators also used propaganda, scorn, bluffing and threats in order to obtain confessions.

453. The physical consequences of torture and ill-treatment during interrogations (lacerations, bleeding, contusions, bruising, loss of consciousness, removal of fingernails and toenails) were so visible that almost all former employees of S-21 who were interrogated admitted that, even though they were not personally present at torture sessions, they knew that such acts were being committed. In some instances, physical suffering was such that it resulted in the prisoners’ death. Duch acknowledges that such extreme cases did happen, adding that he organised a study session to address the situation.

454. The use of ill treatment during interrogations was aimed at obtaining a “complete” answer, including the crimes of which the prisoner was accused and the names of other presumed enemies of the regime. With regard to Vietnamese prisoners, Duch adds that the objective was to obtain confessions to prove that “Vietnam had invaded Cambodia with a view to integrating it into an Indochinese federation”. Unlike interrogations of Cambodian prisoners, interrogations of Vietnamese prisoners were often tape-recorded and were then broadcast over the radio for propaganda purposes. The interrogation of Vietnamese prisoners was also aimed at obtaining military information.

455. The primary function of S-21 was to extract confessions from detainees that would help uncover other networks of potential traitors. Duch states that “the content of the confession [was] the most important work of S-21”.  Most often, these confessions were in the form of a political autobiography written by the detainee who, under duress, ended up confessing to treason and implicating other traitors working for the secret services of foreign powers considered to be enemies of the Cambodian revolution. The ‘truth’ that these confessions were supposed to reveal was, in many respects, defined beforehand, since the interrogators, who had been instructed by Duch to establish the existence of links with the CIA, the KGB and/or the Vietnamese, forced detainees to provide pre-determined answers.

456. Written confessions obtained by the interrogators were transmitted to Duch accompanied by their interrogation reports. Duch read, analyzed, annotated and meticulously summarised most of these confessions, in order to report them to his superiors.
Rape at S-21

457. In the Judgment in the Duch Case, the Trial Chamber found that one incident of rape occurred at S-21. An S-21 staff member inserted a stick into the vagina of a detainee during interrogation. According to Duch, when the rape incident was reported to him, he discussed it with Hor. He states that he ordered Hor to reprimand the offender. Duch added that he reported the incident to his superiors, but received no response. He therefore did not punish the perpetrator, but merely assigned him to interrogate someone else. He also subsequently gave instructions that interrogations of female prisoners were to be conducted by the wives of cadres. Although this measure was implemented, according to Prak Khan, the female interrogators were all ultimately arrested, and by 1977, female prisoners were again interrogated by men.

458. Furthermore, civil party [REDACTED] states that she was raped during her detention at S¬21 in 1977 by a guard whom she recognised during the Duch trial before the ECCC. The rape took place in an individual cell while she was in chains, and led to vaginal bleeding which lasted for several days. The guard in question also threatened to kill her if she mentioned the rape to anyone. In its Judgment in the Duch case, the Trial Chamber rejected [REDACTED] Civil Party application, finding that the evidence she submitted was not sufficient to establish notably that she was detained at S-21. Following this rejection, the facts set out above, which are distinct from the ones put forward at the hearing, have now come to light, and led the Co-Investigating Judges to conduct a second interview in Case No.002. After this new investigative action, the Co-Investigative Judges consider that the clarification provided by this Civil Party appears credible and sufficient according to the requirements at this stage of the proceedings. 

459. There is evidence indicating that other cases of rape occurred at S-21, in particular that of a female detainee by an interrogator named [REDACTED]. However, the Duch Judgment stated that the Trial Chamber is “not satisfied that this allegation has been proved to the required standard”. Execution of prisoners 

460. More than 12,273 S-21 detainees were executed at Choeng Ek, within the S-21 complex or nearby, or died as a result of the detention conditions at S-21.

461. In the Duch Judgement, the Trial Chamber noted that “none of the detainees held within the S-21 complex were to be released as they were all due to be executed in accordance with the CPK policy to “smash” all enemies”. Duch states that prisoners could be executed either on the orders of his superiors, in particular for mass executions, or on the basis of a decision by Duch pursuant to the general Party line, which was that all prisoners were to be executed.

462. Several witnesses testified that at S-21, the decision to execute prisoners was either made by Duch or conveyed by him. Duch explains that he initially delegated responsibility for executions to Hor, but that following an incident that resulted in the death of a prisoner before his interrogation could be completed, Son Sen insisted that Duch approve every execution. In general, the detainees were executed when Duch considered that their confessions had been completed. Duch admitted, however, that he had the power to delay the execution of some prisoners if they were skilled workers.

Executions at Choeng Ek
463. The prisoners were transferred by truck to Choeng Ek by the Special Unit in groups of 30 to 40. They were escorted, handcuffed and blindfolded, to the trucks and were under the strict control of the guards during the journey. The actual destination was concealed from the prisoners and they were told that they were being transferred to another office.

464. A small number of guards were stationed permanently at Choeng Ek; their mission was to maintain the secrecy of the site, dig pits and bury the bodies of the detainees. These guards were joined by those who escorted the prisoners to Choeng Ek. When the trucks arrived at Choeng Ek, the prisoners were herded into a house. The guards then took them out one by one and told them that they were being transferred to another house. Him Huy recorded the names of the prisoners in a register before they were taken to the pits for summary execution.

467. Son Sen and Nuon Chea ordered the mass execution of prisoners on several occasions. These executions took place successively in Choeng Ek over a period of several days. Often, the prisoners were executed immediately upon arrival at S-21, without being interrogated. Some of these mass executions were the result of purges within the CPK and the RAK. According to Duch, early in 1977, a large number of cadres from the Central (Old North) Zone, Phnom Penh and the RAK were executed following the arrest of Koy Thuon. Early in 1978, there were executions of cadres from the West Zone, followed by executions of cadres from the Northwest Zone. Later, in December 1978, some 300 prisoners from the East Zone who had been accused of rebellion were sent directly to Choeng Ek and executed. Duch added that on 2 or 3 January 1979, Nuon Chea ordered him to execute all of the prisoners who were detained at S-21. About 200 detainees (Cambodians and Vietnamese) were therefore transferred to Choeng Ek and executed.

Executions on or near the S-21 premises

468. Duch and several witnesses indicate that even after Choeng Ek had become the main execution site, the execution of some detainees, particularly children, former members of S¬21 staff, important prisoners and foreigners, continued on or near the S-21 premises.

469. In some instances, Duch asked that some of the corpses of important prisoners be photographed after execution. These photographs, expressly requested by Son Sen or Nuon Chea, were intended to prove that these prisoners had actually been executed.

470. Some of the foreign prisoners detained at S-21 were executed near the S-24 compound. Thus, in 1978, somewhere between Mao Tse Tung Boulevard and the Boeng Tumpung neighbourhood, four foreigners were executed and their bodies burned with tyres on Nuon Chea’s specific instructions, in order to ensure that the bodies would not be found.

471. Some of the children who were taken to S-21 were executed on its premises. Young children were generally executed immediately after they were separated from their parents, although some of them were allowed a brief respite before their execution. Duch indicates that Peng, a member of the S-21 staff, was in charge of their execution.

472. Four combatants from a military unit, which, as Duch recalls, was referred to by code name Yo8, were also killed during the mass executions which took place on 2 or 3 January 1979. Duch states that these men were killed with a bayonet by the interrogator [REDACTED] on 7 January 1979, and it was their bodies, still chained to beds, that the Vietnamese soldiers discovered when they arrived in S-21.

Blood drawing
473. Some S-21 prisoners died after S-21 doctors drew a large quantity of their blood. Duch admits that at least 100 prisoners were killed in this way. Prak Khan states that prisoners were made to lie on their backs on a bed and then their handcuffs were removed, while their feet were shackled and they were blindfolded. A needle was then inserted into their veins and their blood drawn until they died, after which a vehicle took their bodies to Choeng Ek. The blood drawn from the prisoners was then sent to hospitals, and used in particular for transfusions for RAK soldiers who were wounded while fighting Vietnamese forces.
474. At first, Duch denied playing any role in the practice of drawing detainees’ blood. He states that if such a method was indeed applied at S-21, it “was a continuation from when Nath was Chairman”. In subsequent hearings, he stated that he could not deny that the blood was drawn from some S-21 prisoners, but maintained that he was never aware of this practice. Finally, before the Trial Chamber, he stated that this practice was instituted on the orders of Son Sen and that it was discontinued once all of the members of the medical team had been executed.


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