From teacher to torturer

Philip Coggan

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Christophe Peschoux interviewing Khmer Rouge soldiers in 1993

Over May 4-6, 1999, Christophe Peschoux, representing the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, interviewed the notorious Duch, one-time commander of the Khmer Rouge interrogation centre S-21, in a village near the Thai border. Duch was arrested two days later. By mutual agreement the interview was kept in a drawer until preparations for his trial got underway in 2006, at which point it became part of the public record. In the course of his trial Duch denounced the interview, claiming it had been extorted under false conditions. The charge shocked Peschoux, who devotes several pages to refuting it and suggests that the about-face may have been connected to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s political campaign to eviscerate the international tribunal in order to prevent it implicating past Khmer Rouge who now serve in his government.

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