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For former Khmer Rouge prisoners, reparations are key to justice

Chum Mey and Bou Meng are two of seven prisoners left alive in S-21 prison when the regime fell in 1979, out of more than 14,000 inmates. They testified this week against former leader .

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Thirty years after their torture inside the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison, two elderly Cambodians finally got their day in court as a cash-strapped tribunal attempts to bring justice to victims of one of the 20th century's most serious atrocities.

"I was beaten for 12 days and 12 nights," Chum Mey, one of the former prisoners, told the United Nations-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal on Tuesday, detailing how guards pulled out two of his toenails and electrocuted him in 1978.

"I have a lot of scars on my back as evidence of that torture," Bou Meng, the other former prisoner, said during his testimony the next day, dabbing his eyes with a tissue. "They put me face down and then started to beat me. They kept asking me when I entered the CIA or KGB and who introduced me to the agents."

Mr. Chum and Mr. Bou were two of seven prisoners left alive when the regime fell in 1979, out of more than 14,000 inmates. Chum said he survived because he could repair sewing machines, while Bou eluded execution by painting portraits of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader who died in 1998.


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