A civil party testified at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday under questioning from defence teams that he had joined the revolutionary movement in the early 1960s because he was “afraid of Angkar”, the name then used to refer to the Khmer Rouge hierarchy.
When questioned by national co-defence counsel for former Khmer Rouge Brother Number Two Nuon Chea, Son Arun, about his previous testimony that he had been forced to join the movement, Klan Fit said that the Angkar “came out of the jungle” to urban areas.
“I was afraid of them, I was told to do things,” he testified.
Klan Fit, who said he had been a district deputy secretary, described later observing regime leader Pol Pot in Ratanakkiri province whom he said had a “big belly but a small head”.
He said that he had also seen both Ieng Sary and Nuon Chea.
Son Arun asked Klan Fit about his arrival in Phnom Penh in September 1978, a city the civil party described as “very quiet”.
“I want to tell the court that everything I did, I did on orders by those senior people,” Klan Fit said in court.
National co-defence counsel for Ieng Sary, Ang Udom, pressed Klan Fit about previous statements that he had been “forced” to join the movement.
Klan Fit said that through “propaganda” he was convinced to join the revolution and that this was a “coercive measure”.
While under questioning from the prosecution earlier yesterday about the party’s activities in the pre-1975 period, Nuon Chea testified that no single group of people was regarded “enemies of the party”.
“We were trying to reduce enemies, increase friends,” the 85-year-old defendant said. “This is our slogan.
“There were individuals who could have been regarded as the enemies of the party . . . those spies who leaked the information from within the party to the enemies so that the enemies could attack the party,” Nuon Chea said.
Nuon Chea, along with co-accused Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan, have been charged with crimes against humanity, genocide and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.
The first “mini-trial” in the court’s second case will hear only charges relating to the forced movement of the population from Phnom Penh and other urban centres in the early stages of the regime.
Under questioning from international senior assistant co-prosecutor Dale Lysak, Nuon Chea said that some people did not understand how poor people were living at the time.
“Their perspective could have been very much different from those who would enjoy very good lifestyles in the cities, who enjoyed having fun with girls and wine,” he said.
Nuon Chea also testified that he did not fill Pol Pot’s role as party leader when he fell ill.