'Christ brought you to meet me'
April 22 2009 at 11:16am
Phnom Penh - The former Khmer Rouge prison chief told Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court on Wednesday he believed Jesus Christ had guided journalists to track him down a decade ago when he was a fugitive.
Duch, a born-again Christian, apologised in March at the start of his trial, accepting blame for overseeing the extermination of 15 000 people who passed through the regime's Tuol Sleng prison, also known as S-21.
As he sat in the dock on Tuesday wearing a white polo shirt, he recounted how journalists Nic Dunlop and Nate Thayer interviewed him at a hotel in a western Cambodian town in 1999.
"I told Nic Dunlop, 'Christ brought you to meet me.' Nic Dunlop quoted those words and those are the words I spoke to him," Duch said.
"I said, 'Before I used to serve human beings, but now I serve God.'"
Nic Dunlop found Duch hiding in a western Cambodian town in 1999 and later wrote a biography of the former prison chief.
Duch - whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav - told the court he confessed his role in the 1975 to 1979 regime after hearing Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot state that Tuol Sleng prison never existed.
"I could not bear what Pol Pot said, so I had to show my face," Duch said.
"For S-21, I was the chairperson of that office. The crimes committed at S-21 were under my responsibility," he added.
Although Duch says he oversaw the brutal prison, he has maintained he never personally executed anyone and has only ever admitted to abusing two people.
The former mathematics teacher has also denied prosecutors' claims that he played a central role in the Khmer Rouge's iron-fisted rule.
He faces life in jail at the court, which does not have the power to impose the death penalty.
Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998, and many believe the UN-sponsored tribunal is the last chance to find justice for victims of the regime, which killed up to two million people. - Sapa-AFP