Civil party Chea Dieb directly implicated Khieu Samphan in the Khmer Rouge regime’s alleged policy of forced marriage, testifying at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday that the former head of state had demanded female cadres be arranged to be married and begin having children.
Samphan and his co-defendant, Nuon Chea, are both on trial for various crimes against humanity attributed to the regime, with the court recently hearing testimony pertaining to charges of forced marriage and rape.
Dieb yesterday testified to meeting Samphan in Phnom Penh while she was assigned to a female mobile unit. She said Samphan told her unit that all female cadres 19 and older needed to be arranged to be married.
“He said that we should get married so that they could produce more children,” Dieb said.
Dieb herself was forced to marry shortly thereafter. She said she had previously refused to marry twice before becoming fearful for her life and acquiescing.
Dieb met her husband on the day of her wedding at the age of 19. She said officials told them to produce as many children as possible. Initially, Dieb did not want to consummate the marriage, even though she and her husband were being monitored at night.
“Whose decision was it to consummate the marriage?” civil party lawyer Sin Soworn asked.
“It was his choice,” Dieb said, referring to her husband.
Before Dieb took the stand, tensions ran high as Nuon Chea defence lawyer Victor Koppe questioned the previous civil party, Seng Soeun, about a mass execution of ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese he testified to witnessing.
Koppe asked if Soeun was involved in the executions, before suggesting that the court and civil party lawyers had neglected to inform Soeun that he had a right to avoid self-incrimination.
Civil party lead co-lawyer Marie Guiraud objected, arguing Koppe’s accusation was inappropriate – an assertion supported by prosecutor Dale Lysak.
“You were not an innocent bystander, correct?” Koppe asked Soeun when he was allowed to continue, drawing another objection.
Judge Claudia Fenz interrupted the proceedings to remind Koppe of proper etiquette.
“We are in the same trial as you are,” Fenz said, to which Koppe retorted, “That, I sincerely doubt.”
Soeun denied participating in the execution.