Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Former staffer for court describes S-21 research



Former staffer for court describes S-21 research

Witness Hin Sotheany testifies before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in Case 002/02 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan yesterday. ECCC/Nhet Sok heng
Witness Hin Sotheany testifies before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in Case 002/02 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan yesterday. ECCC/Nhet Sok heng

Former staffer for court describes S-21 research

Hin Sotheany, a former analyst for the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges (OCIJ) who helped compile the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s list of S-21 detainees, testified there yesterday on the nature and findings of her research.

Sotheany, who also once worked for the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam), told the court that she recorded 15,101 prisoners entering the S-21 prison centre during the Khmer Rouge regime.

However, Victor Koppe, defence lawyer for former Khmer Rouge second-in-command Nuon Chea, asked Sotheany how she knew documents used in her project were authentic.

Sotheany responded that she had authenticated documents based on format, logos and signatures, but admitted that forensic analysis was not used.

Koppe also pointed out that some prisoners were labelled as executed, while other documents claim the same prisoner died of disease.

“In my list, I focused and relied on the incoming prisoners list. If there was a note at the end that this person died of disease, then I would make a reference to that note,” the witness answered, clarifying that her primary role was compiling data on incoming detainees, not executions.

Sotheany also told the court that she took particular care to avoid duplicate entries of prisoner names on the OCIJ list.

“If there are other documents that refer to a particular prisoner’s name or a similar name then I would refer to the date of birth or place of arrest,” she said.

Prosecutor Dale Lysak, meanwhile, suggested that the actual number of executions was in fact much higher than what is currently reported by OCIJ documents.

“There are an additional 1,650 executions that would be added to the 5,500 that already appear - this is just the start,” Lysak said, predicting that even more executions would be added to that number eventually.

Sotheany admitted she hadn’t had time to record every execution and repeated that it wasn’t her main focus.

“It will be much, much higher than 6,600. But this witness should not be encouraged to speculate,” Lysak said.

Sotheany declined to provide an estimate.

After the trial, DC-Cam director Youk Chhang said that even if not all the deaths at S-21 were executions, the leaders of the Khmer Rouge are still responsible for the deaths that occurred from disease and starvation.

“Some died of disease, some died of exhaustion after being severely tortured. There was no proper food, no hygiene no medicine,” he said.

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