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KRT hears of killings, rapes at prison

Say Sen gives his testimony before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in Case 002/02
Say Sen gives his testimony before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in Case 002/02 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan yesterday in Phnom Penh. ECCC

KRT hears of killings, rapes at prison

Thousands of people were tortured and murdered at Kraing Ta Chan Security Centre, including two children who were smashed against a tree and had their organs taken, a civil party told the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday.

Say Sen, testifying in Case 002/02 against former Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, described his five-year incarceration at the prison in Takeo province, calling its horrors “beyond our understanding”.

Arrested in 1974 because of his father’s position in the previous Sihanouk regime, Sen, 57 also known as Soy Sen, said he was initially locked up before being interrogated and eventually assigned work.

He said his tasks ranged from tending cattle, collecting food, feeding inmates and cleaning, to monitoring and counting prisoners, digging mass graves and dragging away dead bodies.

The civil party said he witnessed atrocities daily. Once, while in a tree gathering palm juice, he said he saw two children, of about 3 and 6, murdered days after their parents were killed.

“I heard the sound of the children and then I heard the sound of cracking the children against the palm tree and when I looked down, I saw the children were smashed against the palm tree and then the gallbladders were taken away from both children and hanged there.”

He also described executions, with prisoners – who were hit with hoes and had their throats slashed – taken in pairs to their death.

“They would open the building door and [tell them] they would be allowed to return to the cooperative,” he said.

“Then they were taken to the killing site and they would play music on a loudspeaker and sometimes they would crack firewood nearby in order to muffle the sound of the killing they were about to do.”

Sen said movie stars Nop Nem and Kim Nova were among victims, and in 1977 there was no space for bodies so mass graves were dug outside the fence.

He also said that he saw a guard rape two women and that most prisoners not executed died within a month from being starved, shackled and tortured.

The trial continues today.

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