For six hours yesterday at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, Sar Kimlomouth, who served as deputy director general of the state bank, consistently downplayed both his level of authority within the department and his ability to recall information from so long ago.
Throughout the day’s proceedings, lawyers for the prosecution and civil party teams attempted to extract details about the hierarchy within Democratic Kampuchea’s Ministry of Commerce from a former banker within the regime.
“I’ve never been chairperson of any meeting … and if there were such a meeting [in which I was chairman], it would’ve been a low-profile meeting,” Sar Kimlomouth said in response to questions about his attendance at a meeting with Korean diplomats.
“It’s been 30 years since then, so I can’t recall every detail,” he said during one exchange, in a mantra that would become familiar throughout the day’s proceedings.
At times, the former financier seemed to contradict himself when speaking to the extent of his knowledge about “disappearances” within the ministry.
In the morning, while being questioned by senior assistant prosecutor Tarik Abdulhak, Sar Kimlomouth said he had been “concerned” and “worried” about his safety because of the sudden disappearance of members within the ministry.
However, later, during questioning by civil party lawyers, Sar Kimlomouth backtracked, saying that he did not know about the arrests of his colleagues and his “concern wasn’t about coming to know about [the arrests], it was the general situation that I observed when people didn’t turn up for work”.
“I noticed people didn’t turn up to work sometimes, and I wondered what happened to them, but I didn’t know … they were arrested or where they were taken to,” he said.
Sar Kimlomouth also downplayed the importance of the bank he helped lead, saying it was mostly “symbolic” and “nominal”.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kristin Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org