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Defence seeks confrontation to end witness contradiction

Defence counsel for Khieu Samphan yesterday proposed the Khmer Rouge tribunal schedule a confrontation between former Kraing Ta Chan prison guard Saut Saing and former inmate Soy Sen to determine which of the civil parties was telling the truth about torture and executions at the site.

The request by Anta Guisse, which judges asked for in writing, came after Sen returned to the stand yesterday afternoon to dispute recent testimony by three members of a six-man unit stationed at a ompound in Takeo province’s Tram Kak district during the Democratic Kampuchea regime.

The trio, including Srei Than, better known as “small Duch”; Van Sueon; and his cousin Saing, who testified yesterday prior to Sen, have denied participating in interrogations and mass killings, saying they guarded outside the compound while staff inside executed prisoners.

However, Sen, whose evidence to the chamber in February formed the basis for many of the accusations against the guards, yesterday withdrew a previous application for protective measures, saying he was not afraid and wanted to “shed light” on the truth.

“I do not agree with the statements of those individuals,” Sen said. “After they received the order from the chief of the security office, they were the ones who arrested and executed prisoners.”

Among contested testimony heard yesterday was Sen’s allegation that Saing and another cadre murdered two young girls, bashing one against a tree and beating her elder sister with a hoe.

In the morning, Saing – who claimed he was a victim of the Khmer Rouge because his father and cousins were killed – denied the claim.

A few hours later, Sen showed the murder tree in a photo and on a map.

Saing also denied involvement in the rape of two female guards, who Sen claimed were killed by “small Duch” and then penetrated by an M79 grenade launcher.

Later in the hearing, Sen recalled digging pits for executed inmates despite earlier testimony by Saing that prison staff carried out that task.

“I and Ta Chen were ordered to dig the pits … near the location where the young children were killed; we dug about 20 to 30 pits, and in each pit they buried maybe 10 to 20 bodies of prisoners who were executed,” he said.

Sen said he was ordered to cover the “foul smell” of pits that were “opening up” with swelling corpses.

Running out of room for the reported 10,000 bodies buried at the site, more prisoners would be executed on top of the old graves and covered again, he said.

The trial continues today.

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