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KRT witness says he heard killings

Y Vun gives his testimony before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday during case 002/02 in Phnom Penh.
Y Vun gives his testimony before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday during case 002/02 in Phnom Penh. ECCC

KRT witness says he heard killings

The Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday continued to explore the alleged 1978 massacre of ethnic Vietnamese at Siem Reap’s Wat Khsach pagoda, with witness Y Vun telling the court that he had heard the screams of “many” victims.

Previous testimony from witnesses Um Sun and Sien Sung described a nighttime massacre of ethnic Vietnamese families in which victims were disembowelled, beaten with bamboo sticks and buried in large pits.

Vun, unlike Sun and Sung, was not a direct witness to the killings, but claimed he “knew” that families from his commune were walked to the pagoda, and that “there were also other people brought in . . . from other areas”.

Unable to provide a firm estimate of how many people he saw, Vun said there were maybe 10 or 20 people before simply stating: “It looked like there was a lot of people.”

Vun’s home was only a few hundred metres from where the alleged killings took place; from there, he could hear the screams.

“They shouted very clearly,” he said. “I heard the cry and I thought it was the execution, because the cry was so loud,” Vun continued, saying he listened for “about two hours” before the cries stopped.

Not daring to visit the site until three days later, Vun recalled seeing evidence of the killings. “I went there to search for my cows, and then I saw clothes spread around that area,” he said, later saying he saw bamboo clubs and a pit where bodies were buried.

Vun also confirmed that “Yun” and “Kun”, two Chinese individuals, were spared.

Meanwhile, in a filing posted yesterday, the trial chamber judges made public a possible misconduct complaint to the Amsterdam Bar Association submitted on December 11 against Nuon Chea defender Victor Koppe.

The alleged professional misconduct outlined in the complaint pertains to statements Koppe made on August 27. They include Koppe stating that judge Jean Marc Lavergne “has made cowardly decisions and lack[s] judicial integrity”, and saying that he has “nothing but professional contempt for the international judges of this tribunal”.

Reached yesterday, Koppe said that not only was he untroubled by the filing, he welcomed it. “As a matter of fact I’m quite delighted, because it gives me an opportunity to write extensively about why this tribunal is a farce.

“I am entirely sure they will dismiss the complaint,” he added, citing previous misconduct complaints against defence lawyers at the ECCC that were also dismissed.