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Civil party grilled by defence teams

Civil party grilled by defence teams

Defence teams at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday sought to tease out seeming inconsistencies in the testimony of civil party Chou Koemlan.

In her previous testimony, Koemlan had recounted the arrest and alleged murder of her husband, as well as the time she saw defendants Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea visiting her canal-digging worksite in Takeo province’s Tram Kok district, a key location in the current Case 002/02.

Chea defender Victor Koppe pressed Koemlan on whether she had directly witnessed her husband’s death, which she conceded she had only learned of secondhand.

“People knew what happened, and they told me my husband had been killed. His hands were tied behind his back,” she said. “There were people walking with guns, and he was killed. I was told that.”

When pressed on when she learned of his death, Koemlan again faltered, first saying she had learned in 1979, then saying it could have been in the 1980s or ’90s.

Samphan defender Anta Guisse, meanwhile, challenged the witness on her memory of the visit paid by her client and Chea to the site where Koemlan worked.

However, Koemlan’s testimony ended with her own questions, as she made a statement addressed to the defendants.

“How could they carry out such a revolution? They liberated the country,” she said. “Why did they commit killings?”

Before Koemlan’s testimony ended yesterday, trial chamber president Nil Nonn announced that the court had determined both Samphan and Chea fit to stand trial following an assessment by medical experts.

Court spokesman Neth Pheaktra said yesterday that despite instituting a longer midday break – a concession to Samphan, who has retired early from recent proceedings citing fatigue and dizziness – the court hoped to resume its typical four-day-per-week hearing schedule as of February 2.

Pheaktra also said that the Cambodian government’s contribution to the court’s national side budget for 2015 would rise slightly from the previous year to a total of $4.1 million, a figure that would cover general operating costs as well as national salaries for the first half of the year.

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