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Defence homes in on assumptions of rank

During the final day of testimony by Sar Kimlomouth at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday, the defence team for co-accused Khieu Samphan sought to weaken the ties between their client and the Ministry of Commerce, within which Sar Kimlomouth, a former banker within Democratic Kampuchea, worked.

“At the time of Democratic Kampuchea . . . did you think that . . . Mr Khieu Samphan was your direct superior?” national co-lawyer for Khieu Samphan, Kong Sam Onn, asked.

“No, I don’t think so, but it was my own assumption or guess that he could’ve been the person in charge of the upper level, but I wasn’t sure … I don’t know the organisational structure,” Sar Kimlomouth replied, adding later that “there was no communication with Hem [the revolutionary alias for Khieu Samphan]. The bank didn’t report to him, nor did he contact the bank.”

Khieu Samphan has played down his role in the regime, but the prosecution has tried to link him directly to the Ministry of Commerce.

According to the indictment against the three defendants, nearly 500 Ministry of Commerce staffers were sent to S-21 prison.

Khieu Samphan’s defence team also tried to raise doubts about Sar Kimlomouth’s testimony by portraying him as basing his responses on information gathered recently.

In one exchange between Kong Sam Onn and Sar Kimlomouth, Khieu Samphan’s lawyer referred to an interview the former banker had with the co-investigating judges in which he said he “assumed” Khieu Samphan was a high-level Ministry of Commerce official.

“Can you tell us . . . the basis for your assumption?” Kong Sam Ann asked.

“I was presented with a number of documents . . . I made my assumption based on those documents,” he replied.

“So . . . you made your assumption relying on the documents, not because of your knowledge in that time period?” Kong Sam Ann said.

“That’s correct,” Sar Kimlomouth replied.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kristin Lynch at kristin.lynch@phnompenhpost.com

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