Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ex-cadre testifies on Sao Phim’s last stand



Ex-cadre testifies on Sao Phim’s last stand

Ex-cadre testifies on Sao Phim’s last stand

Senior Khmer Rouge leader Sao Phim, who killed himself rather than be taken prisoner by the comrades who suspected him of treason, was said to have had his innards scooped out and his corpse stuffed with ice before it was paraded around on a horse cart, a Khmer Rouge tribunal witness testified yesterday.

Sin Oeng, a bodyguard and distant relative to East Zone commander Phim, gave a dramatic retelling of Phim’s final visit to Phnom Penh that precipitated his suicide.

Phim and his guards were resting at Arei Ksat, across the river from the Royal Palace, so Phim could “sort things out” with Pol Pot.

“It was at 3 o’clock when the incident happened . . . We were surrounded and guns were fired at us,” Oeng said. “We had to run and we had to gather forces to counter the attack.”

He ran to a motorboat and started it, waiting for Phim to appear.

“I was in the boat waiting for him, and some other people together with him on the land were running . . . I was waiting in the boat but in vain,” he said.

Surrounded by enemies, Oeng said he expected to die.

“I tried to run away in order to save my life, and then I jumped into the [river] and I remained staying under the water,” he said.

He started to make his way towards his home, occasionally dipping into the water to hide from the gunfire. He was eventually captured.

“They wanted to kill me, but they first kept me and they made a report,” he said.

At a chaotic moment, Oeng saw his chance and fled again.

When asked of Phim’s fate, Oeng replied: “I heard people telling me that he killed himself when he was besieged by the forces.”

Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian probed Oeng on a statement he gave to DC-Cam last year, in which he said he was told the Khmer Rouge “scooped out his head and intestines”, filled him with ice, and took him around on a horse cart for the citizenry to see. “I heard about it, but I did not witness it with my own eyes; it was villagers who told me,” Oeng said.

Oeng added Sao Phim had issued a final command to Heng Samrin – the current president of the National Assembly and a Khmer Rouge defector who, shortly after Phim’s death, fled to Vietnam. Phim told Samrin that if he had no news from Phim in one week, Samrin was to gather forces and escape into the forest, Oeng said yesterday.

The trial continues today.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and