The brother of a slain intellectual, who was the predecessor of Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong at the Boeung Trabek prison camp, testified before the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday that defendant Nuon Chea had ordered the man’s execution.
Chau Khim said his brother, Chau Seng, had held several cabinet positions in the Sihanouk government, but fled to France ahead of the Lon Nol coup. He returned to Cambodia “to rebuild the country” with the Khmer Rouge.
But Seng’s outspoken nature – suggesting tractors could work faster than humans and “it would be nice to have a cup of coffee after a meal” – drew suspicion from the paranoid regime. According to S-21 prison chief Duch’s previous testimony, Seng was detained under a false name without Foreign Minister Ieng Sary’s knowledge and “smashed” on the orders of Nuon Chea, the regime’s second-in-command.
Khim pleaded with the Case 002/02 accused Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan – a “close friend” of Seng – to answer why the former had ordered Duch to kill his brother.
“The arbitrary killing of my elder brother gave us so much pain,” Khim said, adding he had pored over his brother’s 200-page confession.
Once Seng was purged, Khim testified, Namhong took his position as chief of the “embassy section” of the prison; Namhong has previously told the Post he replaced Seng as a chief of “the committee of prisoners at Camp B-32 at Boeung Trabek”.
Also yesterday, witness Yun Bin told the court that he had climbed over corpses and survived three grenade blasts to escape a mass execution.
A rice farmer and a former deputy chief of a civilian mobile unit, Bin said he was bundled into a cart destined for a “study session” with 40 others on May 25, 1978.
“My heart was pounding and my hands were tied … I was so scared, and I knew I would be taken away and killed,” he said. “When we arrived at the execution site, they beat me with an axe and I lost consciousness.”
When Bin awoke, he found himself buried under the dead.
“Some women were raped before they were killed and their bodies were naked and lying in that well,” he said. Hearing cries echoing from the few survivors in the pit, Khmer Rouge soldiers threw two grenades into the mass grave until there was only silence.
Bin then braced himself against a third explosion before stacking corpses on top of each other to climb out. Despite his head wounds, he ran home and went into hiding in the flooded forest with his family.
“I swore to myself that I would try to survive. I asked the souls of those who died in the well to help me,” he said. “I promised them I would find justice.”
Hearings are scheduled to continue today.