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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - High life of hated Ta Mok is laid bare

High life of hated Ta Mok is laid bare

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.

The veteran

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

house.

The multi-storey concrete dwelling boasts, massive water

purifiers, four underground rooms and patios offering scenic lakeside

views.

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

invasion.

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

illegal.

Ta Mok apparently preferred Thai-made beer to the local Angkor

brand judging by the litter of Singha beer cans outside his house.

In

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.

There

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

Penh-trained engineer."

Nominal Khmer Rouge spokesman Khieu Samphan and

the military commander Son Sen also numbered among his not infrequent

visitors.

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

secure."

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.

The

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

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