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Marriages, executions described at tribunal

A civil party and a witness described the Khmer Rouge’s institution of forced marriages and the disappearances of ethnic Vietnamese, respectively, in testimony at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday.

Nuon Chea defender Victor Koppe questioned civil party Prak Doeun about his attendance at a forced marriage ceremony following the execution of his ethnically Vietnamese wife, mother-in-law and son.

“I was at the marriage ceremony; I was asked to make a speech for those couples that were arranged to get married by Angkar,” he said, using the name by which the Khmer Rouge referred to itself.

The fact that he had been given such a task, however, led Koppe to question whether he had become a cadre of some importance, which Doeun denied.

He also clarified that he had not been married at the ceremony himself, and that his re-marriage to a widow in 1979 after the country’s liberation was necessary to provide his two surviving daughters a home.

Later, the Khieu Samphan defence team thoroughly questioned Doeun on who carried out the executions of his family.

Though he was unsure, Doeun said, “it was a rumour that wherever there were killings, Comrade Bun would be there to perform the duty”.

Doeun concluded with a tearful statement, as the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization officer on staff comforted him.

“I almost became crazy for the suffering that I’ve received,” he said.

Witness Sao Sak then testified on the treatment of Vietnamese following the Khmer Rouge takeover of her village of Anlong Treah in Prey Veng’s Kampong Leav district.

“Anyone who was related to Vietnamese origins would be taken away and killed.”

When Sak learned from a militiaman that her “half-blood Vietnamese” mother would be taken, she asked to collect her daughter, who was in her care, allowing for a final goodbye.

“She consoled me that ‘do not think of her’ since she was getting old, and at that time I realised she would be taken away and killed, and a few minutes later, I took my daughter back home.”

Sak herself was later detained temporarily, although she did not know why.

Many people of Vietnamese heritage “were taken about the [same] time”, she said, and never seen again.

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