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Mam Nay, Duch’s former deputy: amnesia and serious accommodation with truth

Written By vibykhmer on Wednesday, July 15, 2009 | 9:35 AM

Mam Nay, former head of the interrogation unit at S-21 – the equivalent in this structure of the political commissioner dear to communist regimes –, returned before the Chamber on Tuesday July 14th, duly assisted by a lawyer this time, as recommended by the defence on the previous day. All throughout the day, the witness in Duch’s trial was assailed with questions by the judges – for good reason, as his answers were quite often terse, alternating between “I don’t know” and “I don’t remember,” when he was not ostensibly lying. His testimony prompted much outcry and out loud comments in the public gallery, as the audience was exasperated by such bad faith. The ten seats reserved for civil parties in the courtroom were all occupied for once.

Where should the witness’ lawyer be placed?

The tribunal managed to find a lawyer for Mam Nay but, at the start of the hearing, the defence expressed “the strongest reservations” regarding the place he was given: on the same bench as Duch’s defence counsels. “This leads to granting, by anticipation, the request of the Prosecutor to consider Mr. Mam Nay as an accused today. […] It seems to me that is not correct,” François Roux, Duch’s international co-lawyer, argued. The international co-Prosecutor, who said the situation did not offend him, added he regretted that the defence worried, on the previous day, about “whether the witness was fully aware of his rights.” William Smith stressed that the remark should not have been made in front of the witness, but before his testimony and in camera.

Tuol Sleng / S-21 (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). A “simple interrogator,” Mam Nay allegedly saw or heard nothing of the crimes committed in S-21 against prisoners he found “neither too thin or too fat”… Words that stirred heated reactions in the audience

President Nil Nonn announced that the Chamber would not change the seat it assigned the lawyer called to assist Mam Nay, which “does not mean in any way that the witness is guilty.” He took the opportunity to recall the parties that “the trial management came under the sole authority of the Chamber.”

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