THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
Vol. 10, No.15
July 20th - August 2nd, 2001
FACED with new evidence of his complicity in crimes against humanity, former Khmer Rouge Brother No 2 Nuon Chea dismissed the allegations as "fabricated", declared he had no regrets for fulfilling his "duty for the nation", and asked with a laugh: "Do I look like a killer?"
Nuon Chea, one of seven former high-ranking officials singled out in a new report as prime candidates for prosecution for crimes against humanity, greeted the news with a response typical of former top Khmer Rouge leaders: total denial.
"Any people can produce such documents afterwards [to defame the Khmer Rouge]," Nuon Chea argued when excerpts of documents quoted in the report were read to him. "I admit some people were killed, but not millions. They died from starvation and illness."
He said the Khmer Rouge provided workers with "rice three times a day and dessert once a week".
After obtaining a copy of the report, titled "Seven Candidates for Prosecution: Accountability for the Crimes of the Khmer Rouge," the Post tried to interview the men listed by the authors as responsible for crimes against humanity.
Nuon Chea received the Post in his house in the former Khmer Rouge stronghold in Pailin. He spoke at length but admitted nothing.
Two others identified in the report, former Northern Zone Secretary Ke Pauk and Meas Muth, an army divisional commander, echoed Nuon Chea's denials of personal responsibility for torture and killings committed during the Democratic Kampuchea regime.
In Siem Reap, Ke Pauk angrily dismissed the report as "fiction", while Meas Muth in Phnom Penh said that "low-ranking officials" like himself were not to blame.
Using documents discovered in the past three years by the Documentation Center of Cambodia, researcher Steve Heder and international lawyer Brian Tittemore described the involvement of all seven men in mass killings during the regime.