Nuon Chea, Khmer Rouge “Brother n° 2”, behind bars

24 September 2007 by Anne-Laure Porée

The eighty-one-year-old former right hand man of Khmer Rouge number one Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, was arrested in Pailin at dawn on September 19 and taken by helicopter to the Cambodian capital. He was brought before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), which are tasked with trying the most important Khmer Rouge leaders who ruled Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. Nuon Chea is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Pol Pot’s apparent twin in height, build, smooth face and permanently detached air, Nuon Chea has been described as cold, hard and secretive. “When I was in a reeducation camp in Boeung Trabek, I vaguely heard mention of him.We knew he was powerful, but I came to understand his exact role when I worked in the archives at Tuol Sleng [S-21]. I saw his signature on the confessions of former leaders who’d been victims of purges. It’s up to the court to prove that he organized the massacres, but for myself, I’d like to hear what this enigmatic torturer has to say,” says Ong Thong Hoeung, the author of J’ai cru aux Khmers rouges (I Believed in the Khmer Rouge).

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