Man or Monster?: The Trial of a Khmer Rouge Torturer
Alexander Laban Hinton is Founding Director, Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights and Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University. He is coeditor of Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America, also published by Duke University Press, and author of the award-winning Why Did They Kill?: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide.
This chapter provides an overview of the prosecution’s arguments about Duch, whom they characterized as a zealot who fervently carried out orders. As opposed to being a cog in the machine, they argued, he displayed initiative. His handwriting, they reminded the court, was all over the documentary evidence. While this chapter, in keeping with the book’s ethnodramatic style, highlights the testimony of the prosecution, it also explores the production of juridical truth, which is calibrated to accord with a legal frame that matches evidence to components of the law, thereby suggesting criminality and a black-and-white decision of guilt. Behind the scenes, there is a flow of information, much of it on electronic databases, that drives the process.