ANLONG VENG - Notorious guerrilla chief Ta Mok had an expensive taste in fine
art and for an avowed ultra-nationalist had a penchant for drinking imported
foreign beer - if the evidence left behind in his recently captured hacienda is
anything to go by.
The one-legged Ta Mok, also known by his nickname,
"the butcher" fled with such haste that he left behind his artificial leg. He
had lost his leg years earlier due to a land mine accident.
Ta (grand father) Mok earned his dubious sobriquet for the liquidation of
eastern zone cadre on the orders of his master Pol Pot during the "Killing
Fields" years in the 1970s.
"Villa Ta Mok" as jubilant government
soldiers refer to the now charred and smashed ruin was once an impressive
The multi-storey concrete dwelling boasts, massive water
purifiers, four underground rooms and patios offering scenic lakeside
Flowering Bougainvillea surrounds the hillside house which also
contains a fine tropical garden of banana palms.
A concrete fence topped
by eight strands of barbed wire runs around the perimeter to keep out unwelcome
guests although Ta Mok had evidently not prepared for a government-led tank
Take the art works decorating grandfather Mok's patio. UNESCO
would probably like to speak to him about the origins of the 12th century Angkor
period lintels decorating a retaining wall not to mention several other ancient
sandstone statues lying scattered about his abode.
Four other hand-carved
lintels of the Angkor period were found near Ta Mok's local administration
office, still under construction when the first government tank shells punched
through the upper walls.
Millions of riel of worthless KR currency lay
scattered around his villa attesting to Grandfather Mok's conversion to
capitalism - quite a switch for a party that once declared money
Ta Mok apparently preferred Thai-made beer to the local Angkor
brand judging by the litter of Singha beer cans outside his house.
between planning massacres of ethnic Vietnamese and UN hostage-taking, Ta Mok
was quite a keen amateur photographer.
Ta Mok's impressive photograph
collection ranges from old black and white snap shots of his family and children
to cadre-training sessions in some remote northern forest hideout.
is a series of color photographs of Ta Mok surrounded by KR cadre including the
former guerrilla spokesman, Mak Ben, officially described as a "Phnom
Nominal Khmer Rouge spokesman Khieu Samphan and
the military commander Son Sen also numbered among his not infrequent
The photographs were found by army engineers clearing booby
traps and mines laid around the house before his escape to a new base near the
junction of the borders of Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. They are now the
property of Cambodian Army intelligence.
Asked if he ever expected to be
standing in the ruins of Ta Mok's house, one engineer replied," I did expect to
capture Anlong Veng."
"My feeling is that after capturing Anlong Veng I'm
happy because I hope this will make the country peaceful and more
And what does the KR say about the capture? "We heard them on
the radio say - you're happy now but in three months you'll be in big trouble,"
he replied, adding: "We're not scared of this."
Ta Mok was accused by the
United nations of being ultimately responsible for the deaths of more than 100
ethnic Vietnamese murdered by KR commando units under his command.
pogrom which began in the months leading up to last May's UN-organized election
caused an estimated 25,000 ethnic Vietnamese to flee from their traditional
fishing communities to the river border with Vietnam. -Reuters