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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ieng Sary: "I never killed anyone"

Ieng Sary: "I never killed anyone"

P HNOM MALAI - Ieng Sary declared his innocence, unveiled his own history of Democratic

Kampuchea and gave no concessions to the government during a Sept 9 press conference

here.

Speaking before his Royal pardon was granted, Sary made it plain that an amnesty

was the first demand of his Democratic National Union Movement (DNUM).

"In view of the historical role I play in leading [DNUM], our cadre, combatants

and people request the Cambodian Royal Government to officially and clearly determine

my legal status.

"Once this problem is solved, our [DNUM] will continue its negotiations..."

Sary indicated that the only firm agreement with the government so far was for a

cease-fire. That had been "officially agreed" upon at a meeting in Thailand

three days earlier between himself and co-Ministers of Defense Tea Banh and Tea Chamrath.

Also, it was agreed to establish a military committee to monitor the cease-fire and

"preserve the territory under each side's control."

On whether his troops would be put under Royal army control, he said the matter was

up to negotiation.

Asked what would happen if negotiations were unsuccessful, he said that he believed

an agreement would be reached because "we understand each other's hearts."

On whether DNUM should contest the 1998 national election, he said that depended

on how "events will develop in the future". He added that "anyone

who wants national reconciliation, unity, an end to the war, [and] peace, can join

this movement."

Sary, former deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Pol Pot's 1975-79 Democratic

Kampuchea regime, unequivocally denied any past wrongdoing.

He distributed a 10-page document, typewritten in English and prepared by the "Research

and Documentation Center" of DNUM, on the DK's history.

Asked whether he had any remorse, Sary replied: "I would like to answer that

I have no remorse because I never killed anyone, nor did I ever make a decision or

suggest to Angkar [the DK "organization"] to do so - never at all. Neither

did I suggest the arrest [of anyone] for execution.

"Am I still responsible for past historical events? I think that as a leader

I must take responsibility for the past work. But the framework of decisions that

were made - please see the documents," he said, referring to the paper he distributed.

"What affairs had my knowledge, I could protect [people], I could decide. But

for the affairs that I was not aware of, they proceeded according to the current

of the water."

Sary's 'research' paper argued that every decision "big or small" made

under the DK regime was controlled by Pol Pot, not the government as a whole.

It blamed executions, torture and detentions on a "secret security committee"

controlled by Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Son Sen and Sen's wife, Yun Yat. These four, along

with KR general Ta Mok, were "the mass murderers of the people of Cambodia".

The document, and Sary in his comments at the press conference, outlined what he

said were long-standing differences between himself and Pol Pot.

They began in 1960 when the pair differed over the meaning of a Moscow joint declaration

of the world's communist parties: Pot stressed the concepts of "democracy"

and "class struggle", while he, Sary, emphasized "nationalism."

Sary said he disagreed with the "indiscriminate killing" of the so-called

Khmer Hanoi - accused of being Vietnamese agents - between 1970-75.

He also disavowed any part in the decision to evacuate Phnom Penh and other cities

after fall of the capital to the KR in 1975.

Sary's document also denied that, as foreign minister, he had any role in the detention

and deaths of Khmer diplomats and intellectuals who returned to Cambodia during the

DK regime.

Sary did not even know when his mother-in-law and sisters-in-law, one of whom was

later executed, arrived back in Cambodia.

Sary had saved the lives of several Foreign Ministry staff by opposing plans to send

them to the countryside, the document said.

At the press conference, Sary said he stayed with the KR to "preserve our unity"

and because he thought he could still express his opinion "to a certain extent"

in what was an "internal struggle."

He said that in 1990 - when Pot began to "prevent me from taking part in any

major affairs" - he realized that the KR was on the wrong path.

The "real split" did not occur until Aug 8 this year when KR radio, in

a "slanderous claim", accused him for being a traitor (apparently after

Phnom Malai resisted an order to collectivize property).

Sary said he had last seen Pol Pot more than two years ago, but believed he was alive

and now in Anlong Veng.

Sary's distaste for Pot was evident in the document he distributed, which at one

point said: "Pol Pot...considers himself an incomparable genius in the military

field, in the economic field, in health care, in song-writing, music dances, culinary

arts, fashion, in everything including even the art of lying. Pol Pot considers himself

above all living creatures in this world. He is the god on the earth."

Sary appeared to go to lengths to include KR defense chief Son Sen - whose possible

defection to the government has been mooted in recent weeks - among the KR "mass

murderers".

Asked at the press conference whether he would support amnesty for other KR leaders,

he would only say that "it depends on the government" but noted that Prince

Norodom Ranariddh had urged Son Sen and fellow KR Khieu Samphan to defect.

His prepared document took a harder line, alleging that all of the DK's other leaders

remained faithful to Pol Pot. It named Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Son Sen and Yun Yat as

"committing until now enormous crimes against mankind" and added: "As

such, they must be sentenced to death."

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