Conrused, forgetful, illiterate, inconsistent and possibly coached by court investigators in 2008: defence teams picked away at the credibility of witness Oeun Tan at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday.
The former Khmer Rouge messenger attempted to consult his support lawyer throughout the morning for answers to questions such as, “Do you remember being interviewed by investigators?”
“How do you explain the discrepancy between your statement before investigators and your statement before this chamber?” ex-president Khieu Samphan’s lawyer, Arthur Vercken, asked Oeun Tan during his second day of testimony.
“I am illiterate and I do not understand politics. I am confused and I am forgetful,” was Oeun Tan’s staple reply.
Vercken and later Michael Karnavas, the defence lawyer for Ieng Sary, extracted from Oeun San that in 2008, when investigators interviewed him for a whole day, they had spent the entire previous day off-the-record with him.
“According to [transcripts], reference is made to a conversation on the previous evening – I quote, ‘I’ll ask you the question from yesterday’,” Vercken pointed out in what he called a series of “astonishing” remarks in the transcript.
Karnavas continued on the same line: “Today, you told us that you are illiterate, don’t understand politics, [and were] confused and forgetful. Were you confused and forgetful when you met with the [investigators] and . . . those questions and answers were not tape-recorded?” he asked.
Before the conclusion of proceedings, Nuon Chea’s Cambodian defence counsel, Son Arun, asked Oeun Tan about the character of his client.
“According to my interaction . . . Nuon Chea is a gentle person, an educated person who would be a good advice-giver. He educated people to be good, and that is what my observation is,” Oeun Tan said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]