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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Namhong causes stir at Khmer Rouge court

Namhong causes stir at Khmer Rouge court

Nuon Chea’s defence team will file a complaint to the Khmer Rouge tribunal this week, alleging that Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong’s comments published at his insistence in the Post last week amounted to government interference, the defence announced yesterday.

In the letter, which ran in the August 3 edition, the minister hit back at witness testimony last week that alleged that he was in charge of Boeng Trabek detention centre by stating, without refuting the testimony, that he was a prisoner there, and lambasted the defence for “stirring up controversy around public figures like myself”.

The letter ended: “My greatest hope is that one day justice is done and the legacy of the Khmer Rouge is given its proper place in the dustbin of history—without defence or controversy.”

The attempt by Nuon Chea’s defence counsel, Jasper Pauw, to explain the complaint abruptly ended when the court president shut off his microphone.

“You’re not allowed to proceed, and the chamber has advised that if there is any issue to be raised, you may raise it in writing,” said Nonn.

For the rest of the afternoon, the court continued to hear the testimony of Khmer Rouge Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Propaganda employee Suong Sikoeun.

According to Sikoeun, part of whose job was translating foreign reports on Cambodia, even summarising these reports to anyone other than his immediate superior, Ieng Sary, could have invited accusations of anti-revolutionary ideology.

“[Ieng Sary’s] instructions were … that I should not add or omit anything,” said Sikoeun. “For that reason, that’s how it was reported to him, and it was no problem. At that time, if I reported [to the rest of the leadership] what was broadcast on Voice of America, I would be accused of having the same view as what was on Voice of America.”

Sikoeun himself was accused in a handful of S-21 confessions, many of which were so improbable, he said, that they read like “novels”.

Later in life, he continued, on a trip to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, he found photos of several friends he knew had been falsely accused.

“If I knew that was the result, I would never have joined the [Khmer Rouge],” he said. “That’s not a revolution.”

Sikoeun’s testimony will continue tomorrow.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart White at



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