Ieng Sary had an iron-clad grip on decision-making within Democratic Kampuchea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pol Pot’s nephew Saloth Ban testified yesterday at the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
The full day of examination by the prosecution began slowly, with Saloth Ban repeatedly saying he was simply an “ordinary combatant” with limited knowledge about the questions posed to him.
However, during the afternoon session, while being probed by senior assistant prosecutor Vincent de Wilde, he illuminated the administrative structure of B-1, the internal code-name for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ieng Sary, its deputy prime minister.
“Just now you told us that your role was as a coordinator and Ieng Sary was in reality the real boss [at B-1]. Does that mean he had complete responsibility for everything done in the foreign ministry?” de Wilde asked.
“Yes, that is correct,” Saloth Ban replied.
“So when you were working as secretary-general of the ministry, when you fulfilled your duties, it was always in full respect of the hierarchy, with full permission from above, from Ieng Sary?” de Wilde said.
“Yes, we had to have permission from Ieng Sary,” Saloth Ban explained, adding the caveat that if Chheum Sam-Aok, alias Pang, was present, he could at times make decisions “without informing Ieng Sary”.
Pang was the chairman of government office S-71, one of the two highest-level offices within the regime.
De Wilde tried to establish that decisions within Democratic Kampuchea were made collectively by the regime’s senior leadership, rather than solely by Pol Pot.
When Saloth Ban said he was uncertain whether Pol Pot had made decisions alone, de Wilde presented a transcript from an interview Saloth Ban gave to co-investigating judges in 2009, in which he said “Pol Pot couldn’t make decisions alone”.
After a brief interrogation, Saloth Ban said he stood by his previous statement.
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