The former head of a prison run by the Khmer Rouge has confessed to one of the darkest crimes committed during the regime’s brutal rule – smashing the skulls of babies and children against the trunks of trees.
In testimony before a genocide tribunal in Cambodia, Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, said that the children were executed to prevent them seeking revenge. Always watchful to save bullets, executioners would hold the youngsters by their legs or feet and smash their heads against tree trunks located in now notorious “killing fields” on the edge of Phnom Penh.
“I am criminally responsible for killing babies, young children and teenagers,” said Duch, referring to photographs he was shown of how the children were killed. “The horrendous images of the babies being smashed against the trees … I didn’t recognise it at first. But after seeing the photographs I recalled that it had happened.