Former Democratic Kampuchea “Brother No 2” Nuon Chea told cadre to “train and refashion” themselves to become “one of the people in the peasant class” at yearly study sessions in Phnom Penh during the regime’s reign, the Khmer Rouge tribunal heard yesterday.
Resuming testimony for a second day, accused former head of Takeo province’s Tram Kak district Neang Ouch, the brother-in-law of high ranking Khmer Rouge official Ta Mok, recalled attending two meetings hosted by co-defendant Chea in 1977 and 1978.
“I can recall some [of the meeting] that [was] on the building of a peasant class and about the class struggle and to get rid of the capitalist class from within ourselves,” the 72-year-old, whose alias is Ta San, said.
“I remember about class struggle, and we had to get rid of this capitalist class, because it happened to me personally, so I had to train myself to refashion myself to become one of the people in the peasant class.”
Pushed on whether communist party policy was discussed, Ouch said he could not recall more about the sessions – which were attended by selected cadre from the district levels – because of his bad memory.
The witness – who called himself a victim of the regime because his elder brother disappeared – denied ever meeting co-defendant Khieu Samphan.
He recalled greeting a Chinese delegation in Leay Bor commune but denied meeting Khmer Rouge leaders Pol Pot and Ieng Sary, despite an extract from the communist’s radio station indicating they had travelled with the Chinese.
As on Monday, Ouch’s role in the Khmer Rouge came under heavy scrutiny, particularly in light of documents written and signed by him ordering arrests, interrogations and, in one case, the execution of mothers with young children and widows, using the phrase “sweep them clean”.
Continuing to insist he was an “assistant to Tram Kak district” and not, as he has been identified by several witnesses, the district secretary, Ouch said he was “simply following orders” from “Ta Ron”, a Sector 13 official who he claimed had taken charge of the district in 1977 but didn’t sign orders because he couldn’t write well.
“When [Ta Ron] ordered me to send anything or anyone to any place, I (would) ask the district militia to implement that order,” he said, adding he obeyed because he feared for his life.
The trial continues today.