Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Driver insists Samphan nice

Driver insists Samphan nice

Driver insists Samphan nice

KRTalk logo

Several witnesses at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have mentioned that, as head of state, co-accused Khieu Samphan rode in a small, wall-less Lambretta car – evidence, they claim, of his modest lifestyle and lack of true power during the Khmer Rouge regime.

Yesterday, the tribunal heard testimony from a driver of that car, Leng Chhoeung, who was just 15 or 16 when tasked with Khieu Samphan’s transportation in 1978.

Like other witnesses called by Samphan’s defence team, Chhoeung described Samphan as a “respectable, gentle, honest and kindhearted person” who lived humbly and instructed Chhoeung to “waste not, want not”.

But despite frequent contact with Samphan, Chhoeung, like Samphan’s wife So Socheat last week, offered few details on Samphan’s activities, frequently pleading ignorance or forgetfulness because “at that time I was very young” and “don’t want to speculate”.

Chhoeung said that in the seven or so months between his appointment as driver and Vietnam’s overthrow, he drove Samphan about once a week to K-1, Pol Pot’s headquarters, and would see Nuon Chea and Ieng Sary’s drivers there.

To Chhoeung’s knowledge, Samphan never visited any security centres or received any visitors, he said.

Despite learning from the radio that Samphan was president of the state presidium, Chhoeung said he had the impression that Samphan actually was not very powerful and “did not have much work to do”.

In response to prosecutors’ questions, Chhoeung said he had voluntarily joined the Khmer Rouge through its children’s unit in 1973, against his parents’ wishes, and had suffered no hardship under the regime. Court resumes on Wednesday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • EU officials: Ending EBA an 18-month procedure

    EU officials have confirmed that it will take a total of 18 months to complete the procedure if Cambodia’s preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) trade agreement is to be withdrawn. According to EU Agriculture and Rural Development spokesman Daniel Rosario, the formal process has not