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Populace needed to be ‘conquered’: Nuon Chea

The people of Cambodia needed to be “conquered” and “con­trolled”, Brother No 2 Nuon Chea told the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday when questioned about how the regime garnered support.

French Judge Jean Marc-Levergne asked Nuon Chea to what extent force was used to gain support from the Cambodian people during the rise of the regime in the early 1970s.

“People had to be conquered, controlled – the more the better,” Nuon Chea, who claimed he had never been on the battlefield, said. “In the war, we needed to grasp the population, because if we controlled the people, then they sided with us.”

As the Communist Party of Kampuchea began to seize control of tracts of the Kingdom and her population in the early ’70s, leaders introduced the policy of abolishing the riel.

Questioned on how the party was able to secure material items without currency, Nuon Chea replied that the Khmer Rouge bartered goods for Chinese support.

“China helped us with weapons…as far as I know, the military assistance, whether it was military or something else from China...was without any condition whatsoever,” he said.

“China never sold weapons to Democratic Kampuchea. That assistance was without strings.”

When probed for the types of weapons gifted, Nuon Chea offered that “as far as I know, a majority of it was handguns and…tanks and rocket [propelled grenades] and launchers”.

Nuon Chea’s comments are consistent with the case’s closing order, which states that “the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea received expert assistance and military equipment from other countries, most prominently from China”.

Yesterday’s session was cut unexpectedly short when the Trial Chamber withdrew time for Nuon Chea’s defence team to question its client, after co-defence lawyer Michiel Pestman argued for revisiting comments Prime Minister Hun Sen allegedly made against Nuon Chea last month.

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