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One-time Khmer Rouge soldier recounts his torture

Civil Party Sun Vuth testifies in Case 002/02 at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal yesterday. ECCC
Civil Party Sun Vuth testifies in Case 002/02 at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal yesterday. ECCC

One-time Khmer Rouge soldier recounts his torture

A man who proclaimed himself a loyal servant to Angkar described how he was tortured with electricity until he lost consciousness, as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal yesterday continued its examination of the Phnom Kraol security centre in Case 002/02.

The witness, civil party Sun Vuth, a former Khmer Rouge soldier, said he was arrested and detained at a prison south of Koh Nhek in Mondulkiri province.

“Three people came to point their guns at me … they said I betrayed Angkar,” Vuth said. “I was tortured severely after my arrest.”

Vuth said he was blindfolded during his arrest, then shackled by the ankle and cuffed at the wrist during his detention, before enduring interrogations engineered to illicit a confession.

“They actually shocked me with electric cables and I lost my consciousness . . . I thought that I died,” he said.

“When I gained my consciousness, they shocked me again . . . and after that, they beat and interrogated me.

“I didn’t have anything to confess.”

The witness said he was accused of being a “Khmer body with a Vietnamese head” – a common refrain of accusers during the regime – and said his parents and siblings had disappeared under the Khmer Rouge; a loss which rendered him “speechless” and suicidal.

“I served Angkar with my full heart . . . but as a result, my parents, siblings and relatives were killed. That was unbearable,” he testified.

After months of detention and interrogation, Vuth fled. He told the trial chamber that although they may deem it “superstition”, he dreamed his parents told him local spirits would help him escape, and if he did not, he would be killed the next day.

Vuth said he managed to unshackle his hand and ankle and fled the prison with two other detainees, while guards slept just 10 metres away.

Vuth took the stand after former Sector 105 secretary Sao Sarun was questioned by the defence team on the extent of alleged Vietnamese espionage and sabotage along the border with Mondulkiri province.

Sarun said he agreed with the Khmer Rouge leadership that Vietnamese and Soviet expansionist ambitions were a threat to Cambodian territory.

“They had a clear policy of absorbing Cambodia into the Indochinese Federation,” he said.

“It’s true. It’s reflected in their fighting along our border.”

Sarun testified the party decided to grant “amnesty” to those who were falsely accused, and that they “needed to be refashioned”.

“No arrests were made arbitrarily,” he said.

Today, the defence teams will continue their cross-examination, questioning Vuth on the fate of soldiers from his division who were sent to the notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh.

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