Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Driver insists Samphan nice

Driver insists Samphan nice

Driver insists Samphan nice

KRTalk logo

Several witnesses at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have mentioned that, as head of state, co-accused Khieu Samphan rode in a small, wall-less Lambretta car – evidence, they claim, of his modest lifestyle and lack of true power during the Khmer Rouge regime.

Yesterday, the tribunal heard testimony from a driver of that car, Leng Chhoeung, who was just 15 or 16 when tasked with Khieu Samphan’s transportation in 1978.

Like other witnesses called by Samphan’s defence team, Chhoeung described Samphan as a “respectable, gentle, honest and kindhearted person” who lived humbly and instructed Chhoeung to “waste not, want not”.

But despite frequent contact with Samphan, Chhoeung, like Samphan’s wife So Socheat last week, offered few details on Samphan’s activities, frequently pleading ignorance or forgetfulness because “at that time I was very young” and “don’t want to speculate”.

Chhoeung said that in the seven or so months between his appointment as driver and Vietnam’s overthrow, he drove Samphan about once a week to K-1, Pol Pot’s headquarters, and would see Nuon Chea and Ieng Sary’s drivers there.

To Chhoeung’s knowledge, Samphan never visited any security centres or received any visitors, he said.

Despite learning from the radio that Samphan was president of the state presidium, Chhoeung said he had the impression that Samphan actually was not very powerful and “did not have much work to do”.

In response to prosecutors’ questions, Chhoeung said he had voluntarily joined the Khmer Rouge through its children’s unit in 1973, against his parents’ wishes, and had suffered no hardship under the regime. Court resumes on Wednesday.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all