When a Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge from Phnom Penh in January 1979, Duch oversaw the execution of the remaining prisoners. But he did not ruin the information of interrogations, meticulously stored accounts that could run to as quite a few as 200 pages. They amounted, in the finish, to his life’s operate.
Soon after fleeing Phnom Penh, Duch appeared to undergo a dramatic existence alter, converting to Christianity though residing in refugee communities along the border with Thailand. As a religion of forgiveness, Christianity, if his embrace of it was real, may perhaps have appealed to a sense of guilt. He at times carried a Bible into the courtroom throughout his trial.
Duch was identified in 1999 by the photographer Nic Dunlop, who later on wrote a guide about him, “The Misplaced Executioner.”
Just before getting arrested shortly afterward, he advised Mr. Dunlop and the journalist Nate Thayer that he had determined to confess to demonstrate that the prison, regarded to the regime as S-21, had definitely existed, rebutting a declare by the Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot that accounts of it had been propaganda fiction.
Through his trial, having said that, Duch appeared to doubt the validity of his operate, telling the courtroom that though working the prison he did not think most confessions that his torturers had extracted and that he then annotated and sent to his superiors.
“I by no means believed that the confessions I obtained advised the reality,” he explained. “At most, they had been about forty % real.”
And he explained he believed that only twenty % of the people today whose names had been extracted by torture had been real opponents of the regime. People people today had been in flip pursued, arrested and tortured until finally they, as well, generated the names of imagined accomplices.