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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - KRT witness tells court of battles on Vietnam border

Civil Party Sun Vuth testifies before the Khmer Rouge Tribunal on Wednesday. ECCC
Civil Party Sun Vuth testifies before the Khmer Rouge Tribunal on Wednesday. ECCC

KRT witness tells court of battles on Vietnam border

A former Khmer Rouge soldier said he narrowly avoided a forced marriage under the regime and described how he constructed spike traps to wound Vietnamese troops during testimony at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday.

Sun Vuth, a civil party and witness, said eight couples were arranged to be married by Angkar, the name used for the Khmer Rouge leadership, in a Mondulkiri province ceremony, but he protested.

Vuth said the seven other couples did not love each other but were monitored after the ceremony to ensure they consummated their marriages, and those who failed were reported to the upper echelons for their betrayal.

While sexual relations were expected for arranged couples, the witness said “love affairs” were forbidden for combatants outside of marriage under the Khmer Rouge’s 12 moral commandments.

“It was our nature to chit chat with the opposite sex. During the regime, that was prohibited,” Vuth said.

“If I were to speak to a woman alone, I might be accused of committing a moral offence.”

He said for minor crimes of this sort, the offenders would not be killed but were sent to a “self-criticism meeting”.

Appointed head of a company within Sector 105 in 1977, he said he dug trenches and laid traps during his patrol of the Vietnamese border.

At first, he told the court, he shook hands with Vietnamese troops, but when they claimed their land was within Cambodian territory, Vuth followed the order from Angkar to fight and protect the border.

“When they came, we shot at them, and seven of them were killed,” he said.

“They fell into our spike traps . . . they dragged their wounded people away.”

Anita Guisse, defence counsel for Khieu Samphan, probed the witness as to why there were inconsistencies in his story, highlighting conflicting details about his job promotion, his arrest, and the time he spent in a prison in Koh Nhek district.

She also questioned why the torture and detention he detailed on Wednesday received no mention in one of his interviews with investigating judges.

Vuth claimed he had not been asked about his personal suffering during the interview, and explained he later escaped from prison by prying open a locked door with a metal bar, taking two other detainees with him.

Before the court adjourned for the day, the trial chamber heard submissions on Nuon Chea’s defence team’s request for more days to question an upcoming witness – known only as 2-TCW-916 but described as “one of the most important witnesses in Case 002/02” – in relation to the S-21 detention centre.

The trial will resume on Monday with a new witness to be questioned about the treatment of the Cham Muslim people under Democratic Kampuchea rule.

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