The Khmer Rouge tribunal conducted a closed session for most of yesterday morning to discuss apprehensions that the testimony of the day’s witness, Ratanakkiri ethnic minority Pean Khean, would lead to self-incrimination of the one-time Khmer Rouge messenger.
When Pean Khean took the stand in the afternoon, dwarfed in the dock’s chair and swimming in an over-sized suit jacket, he identified Case 002 co-accused Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan as “senior leaders” of the Khmer Rouge regime.
“In 1976, I stayed at K1, Pol Pot’s place. K3 was for Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary. That was a place where they came to meet each other, and they were addressed as ‘om’ that means that they were the leaders,” Pean Khean, who was accompanied by a duty counsel, testified.
The carpenter, who lives in Takeo, recounted entering Phnom Penh by bicycle from Oudong on the evening of April 17, 1975, and passing thousands of residents marching out of the city.
“We were life and death enemies,” Pean Khean said of the Khmer Rouge and Lon Nol regimes. “Those people were evacuated from the city because it was easier to cleanse the enemy.”
Recruited as a 16-year-old in 1966, Pean Khean, who served as a bodyguard in the revolutionary forces for Koy Thun, alias Touch, told the court he was forbidden from visiting his family and there was severe punishment doled out to anyone who dared step out of line.
Earlier in the day, the Nuon Chea defence team slammed New Zealand judge Silva Cartwright for exhibiting her “disdain” for the team non-verbally.
“Yesterday, Judge Cartwright visibly shook her head and mouthed the words ‘blah blah blah’,” defence counsel Andrew Ianuzzi said.
“I tried to look for international jurisprudence on this and found none but found a secondary source, which states: ‘Some musicians cuss at home but are afraid to express yourself on the microphone,’ which is [the] Dr Dre [song], Express Yourself,” Ianuzzi said, referring to the hip-hop star.
“My application is that Cartwright could express, as Dr Dre advised, her personal and judicial opinions for the record.”
Nuon Chea’s defence team has thrice sought the disqualification of Judge Cartwright from the bench on perceptions of bias.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]