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Cham massacre recounted

Witness Samrit Muy testifies on the targeted killing of ethnic Cham at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday.  ECCC
Witness Samrit Muy testifies on the targeted killing of ethnic Cham at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday. ECCC

Cham massacre recounted

Witness Samrit Muy corroborated previous accounts of the targeted arrest and killing of ethnic Cham at the Au Trakuon pagoda security centre yesterday, as the defence sought to raise questions as to the reliability of his testimony.

Muy told the court of the formation of the “Long Sword militia” – also recounted by previous witness Sen Srun – which was formed following the arrival of Southwest Zone cadres in 1976 and 1977.

The militia was responsible for compiling lists of members of the predominantly Muslim Cham ethnic minority, arresting them and transporting them to Au Trakuon pagoda.

Muy said he had been part of a local militia until 1976, when he worked at the cooperative near Au Trakuon and witnessed the same arrest of 200 to 300 Cham previously described by Srun.

“It was a large arrest ... I was afraid to go near,” he said. While Muy never witnessed any killings – a point repeatedly stressed by both defence teams in their cross examination – he stated “those who were brought into that pagoda would never return”.

Muy also corroborated prior testimony by Srun that killings at Au Trakuon occurred while music was played at night. “I would hear the screaming for help at the time the loud music was being played,” he said.

Muy went on to testify that the music was always played on days that arrests were made.

“We could all see it; we saw men, women and young children being taken away to the pagoda, and surely on days that happened, we would hear that night loudspeakers being played.”

In their cross examination, however, the defence attempted to impeach Muy’s credibility, calling attention to Muy’s time in the militia.

Srun, the previous witness and Muy’s fellow militiaman, had said that Muy had stayed on with the militia until 1979, not just 1976 as Muy maintained.

Under pressure from Khieu Samphan defender Anita Guisse as to what motivation Srun would have to lie about the matter, Muy denied the accusation, maintaining that Srun was only alive “because of my good deed”.