Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ex-officer denies antagonising Vietnam



Ex-officer denies antagonising Vietnam

Chuon Thy testifies before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia during Case 002/02 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan on Tuesday. ECCC
Chuon Thy testifies before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia during Case 002/02 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan on Tuesday. ECCC

Ex-officer denies antagonising Vietnam

Former Khmer Rouge commander Chuon Thy yesterday vehemently denied that his unit encroached on Vietnamese territory in testimony before the Khmer Rouge tribunal, claiming Democratic Kampuchea soldiers only defended Cambodia’s border.

Thy served as one of the commanders of Division 340, created by the Khmer Rouge specifically to defend the border in Svay Rieng province in 1978, prior to the Vietnamese invasion. Others, most recently expert witness and historian Stephen Morris, have accused the Khmer Rouge of harassing the Vietnamese with cross-border raids long before Vietnam decided to invade.

“We were in constant combat,” Thy said yesterday, claiming Cambodian and Vietnamese forces were “attacking one another on a daily basis”, while maintaining that Cambodian troops only fought to protect their territory.

Lysak read from a Vietnamese report claiming Vietnamese forces took captives from the witness’ unit after a Cambodian incursion across the border.

“That is false, we did not enter Vietnam territory; we contained them inside Kampuchean territory,” the witness protested.

Lysak then pressed the witness, asking how the Vietnamese could know the number of his division. The witness acknowledged that his division was “newly established” in 1978 and the number was only known within the military.

Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea are on trial for various crimes against humanity, including alleged atrocities committed against ethnic Vietnamese.

The defence for Nuon Chea has argued that the existence of a legitimate military threat from Vietnam is a key element of its defence, but Chea defender Victor Koppe yesterday argued that alleged crimes committed during excursions into Vietnam are supposed to be outside the scope of this trial.

“Incursions into Vietnam as a crime is not within the scope, but is still relevant in understanding the armed conflict,” prosecuting lawyer Dale Lysak countered. Koppe then claimed he was unprepared to deal with this line of questioning, a statement Lysak called “absurd”.

“Mr Koppe himself has repeatedly tried to tender evidence that it was Vietnam that was initiating conflict,” he said.

The prosecution later asked the witness if he knew of any members of his division who had been arrested and sent to Phnom Penh.

When the witness said he did not, Lysak revealed a list of 16 names of men from Thy’s division who were sent to S-21, including the division secretary. The witness, who testified in 2013 that “people were happy” during the regime, said he did not recognise any of the names and denied having heard of S-21 at that time.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration