A FORMER deputy to notorious Khmer Rouge military leader Ta Mok during the 1975-79
KR regime is believed to have defected to the government.
Ta (Grandfather) Bit - sometimes spelled Ta Bet - was reportedly among guerrillas
at the KR base of Samlot, about 22km south of Pailin, who defected in early October.
Chhouk Rin, a former KR colonel in Kampot, said last week that he had met with Bit
in Phnom Penh in November. He was not sure whether Bit had since gone back to Samlot.
Bit was a former deputy to Ta Mok, one of the strongest and most feared figures in
the KR. Mok headed the powerful southwest zone under the Pol Pot regime, and Bit
was secretary of the zone.
Southwest zone troops were used by senior KR leaders to conduct purges of other party
officials in the latter half of the regime.
"Certainly he was up to his neck in the purges," said one Phnom Penh-based
KR researcher of Bit.
More recently, Bit headed the KR's regional command base at Koh Sla in Kampot province.
He was the superior of Nuon Paet, the chief of Phnom Vour at the time three foreign
tourists were kidnapped and later killed on the mountain. Paet - and nobody else
- is wanted for their murders.
Phnom Vour was captured by government troops in late 1994 and Koh Sla, approxiamately
28km northwest of the mountain, was overrun a year later
Both Bit and Paet, according to Kampot and Phnom Penh sources, were recalled to the
Thai border by the KR leadership after the loss of the two bases. Bit did not return;
Paet was promoted and sent back.
Several military and government officials said they knew nothing about Bit's defection.