The credibility of a witness who served as the former bodyguard of Brother No 2 Nuon Chea came under withering attack yesterday at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, as lawyers from all sides attempted to poke holes in his statements.
Assistant co-prosecutor Dale Lysak seemingly tried to preempt such doubts about Saut Toeung’s reliability early on, explaining that when the former bodyguard was originally questioned by co-investigating judges in December 2007 he had denied being a bodyguard and had only admitted to the role two years later.
“I want to give you an opportunity to explain … why when you were first interviewed that you denied being the bodyguard of Nuon Chea. Can you explain why you did that?” Lysak asked.
“I was traumatised by the regime, and I didn’t want to face this event again,” Saut Toeung responded.
However, during cross-examination, Andrew Ianuzzi, legal consultant for the Nuon Chea defence team, revealed that Saut Toeung’s “change in testimony” had occurred after the co-investigating judges had told the former bodyguard he would not be incriminated by answers he gave.
Reading from the transcript of Saut Toeung’s testimony in December 2009, Ianuzzi recited: “‘The co-prosecutors wish to impress upon [Saut Toeung] that we have no intention of prosecuting him for anything he may have done during the Khmer Rouge era’.”
“The next bit is a statement by the co-investigating judge You Bunleng,” Ianuzzi continued, reading from the document. “‘We are explaining to you that you will not be prosecuted for events that occurred during Democratic Kampuchea.”
In each instance, however, Saut Toeung said he did not know about such statements or did not remember them.
Saut Toeung’s credibility was damaged during questioning earlier in the day by assistant prosecutor Dale Lysak and civil party lead co-lawyer Elisabeth Simonneau Fort, when he redacted statements he had previously made under oath to the co-investigating judges.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kristin Lynch at [email protected]