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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Prosecutor questions wife’s account

Prosecutor questions wife’s account

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Such was the disciplined order of Democratic Kampuchea that even spouses remained largely unaware of the work their husbands carried out for the regime, the wife of Khieu Samphan told the court yesterday.

So Socheat’s lack of detailed knowledge on her second day of testimony was exploited by the prosecution, who subjected her to a barrage of questions to test her credibility as witness.

“My husband never discussed the leadership of the revolutionary forces. He only discussed with me his personal matters,” she said, telling the court she was “only a cook” several times throughout proceedings.

Her testimony described life under Angkar as intensely private, with comrades sticking resolutely to their own tasks and rank.

“Discipline was meant for all comrades . . . and we had to be self-disciplined in each place. We had to behave properly,” she said.

“I prepared food for my husband and others, and I did not bother to ask any questions about the nature of his work.”

Socheat added that she was unaware that Samphan held a high-ranking position until long after their marriage, saying they were “ordinary citizens”.

She added that she did not know about the planned evacuation of Phnom Penh until after it happened.

And despite being shown a series of photos of her husband at lavish dinner parties, she said the regime’s leaders had been served the same simple food as all other comrades.

Communication within the regime was so poor that Socheat did not know that her own family members had been arrested for more than a year until they were released.

Despite testimony from a previous witness to the contrary, she claimed her husband was also unaware of her family’s plight when she came to him in tears.

“He turned to you, a person, whose only duty it was to cook meals, to get his information?” Judge Jean-Marc Lavergne asked.

Prosecutor Keith Raynor, visibly losing his patience at Socheat’s inconsistent replies, suggested she had “concocted evidence” with her husband and lied to the court about whether senior leaders shared a residential office in Phnom Penh.

He also blasted the defence counsel, saying continuous objections, requests for document filing numbers and translation issues were turning proceedings into “a farce”. Despite these complaints, he called Socheat one of the “five most important witnesses” in Case 002 and was granted additional time to question her.

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