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On the trail of Pol Pot’s chief executioner

A single photograph led me to the "technician" of Cambodia's holocaust

By Nic Dunlop   August 2002

He looks directly ahead, his eyes betraying nothing. He may be smiling, but it’s hard to say. He sits behind a microphone addressing a meeting of Khmer Rouge cadre. I look at the picture and wonder what he’s talking about; whether he’s lecturing his staff on the purity of the revolution or perhaps instructing them how to extract confessions.

The photograph is of Comrade Duch, commandant of Tuol Sleng prison. During the Khmer Rouge regime, from 1975 to 1979, more than 2m people died from starvation, overwork, disease and execution. As head of the special branch, Duch was personally responsible…

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