Al Jazeera International, the 24-hour English-language news and current affairs channel, headquartered in Doha, are currently producing a series of reports from Cambodia in the form of their award-winning news anchor and presenter of their dynamic 101-East documentary programme, Teymoor Nabili, who joined the channel after experience with the BBC in London and CNBC in Singapore. Al Jazeera is funded by the Emir of Qatar. Here's Nabili's latest report from his visit to Pailin, in Northwest Cambodia, fresh from the news that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has received the green light to begin in earnest.
Big Mistake: "I don't deny that I'm responsible," he told me. "I personally take responsibility for the bad fortune of the people during the three year period but I want to stress, what is wrong, what is right. "My mistake is that I did not get involved with the lower levels so was not able to discover that there were bad men hiding among the people. We did not go into the local level. This was a big mistake. "In Khmer we say, if you are careless, you lose, we had no intention of killing our people. We wanted people to have food and clothes and education. The bad people hid themselves among our people and killed them." With Cambodian and international judges having now agreed the rules to try former Khmer Rouge leaders, Nuon Chea's defence then will rest in part on the argument that victims were in fact enemy infiltrators – bad people – and not innocent civilians. The other key part of the defence will be denial. He claims that the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, or S-21, was the responsibility of other Khmer Rouge leaders.
Torture: They include men like Duch, the former head of the feared Santebal secret police, and Son Sen, the former defence minister, who reportedly developed the Khmer Rouge's own techniques for torture and interrogation. Duch, though, has said that Nuon Chean personally authorised the torture of the estimated 14,000 people who passed through Tuol Sleng. So what exactly is the purpose of torture in creating revolution? On this the former Brother Number Two is evasive. "I know S21, this I know," he says. "As for torture I don’t know, because I was not in charge of this. Son Sen was directly responsible for the prison because he was minister of defence and internal security at the time.” So he knew nothing about S21? "I knew. I didn’t mean I didn’t know about it. I didn’t know any details about the torture. I was just aware of the place in general." Photos on the wall suggest Noun Chea has made his peace with one time foe Prince Sihanouk and he seems to see no irony in playing with his grandson’s toy weapon but his most jarring comment is that he once considered becoming a buddist monk.