Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - General testifies on Khmer Rouge army incursions in Vietnam

General testifies on Khmer Rouge army incursions in Vietnam

Ieng Phan testifies before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in Case 002/02 yesterday. ECCC
Ieng Phan testifies before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in Case 002/02 yesterday. ECCC

General testifies on Khmer Rouge army incursions in Vietnam

A former Khmer Rouge regiment commander testified yesterday that his soldiers did cross the Vietnamese border at times, but maintained the manoeuvres were only meant to force Vietnamese soldiers to retreat from Cambodian territory.

Ieng Phan, who is currently a two-star general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, was stationed in Takeo province with Regiment 12.

“In late 1977, the Vietnamese troops were penetrating into Takeo province very far from the border,” Phan said.

When asked if Cambodian forces ever entered Vietnamese territory, Phan said yes. However, he clarified that these excursions – which he referred to as the “art of war” – were only meant to “contain” Vietnamese forces.

“We had to hit them from behind. The main purpose was not to liberate Kampuchea Krom but to make them retreat,” he said.

Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea are on trial for various crimes against humanity, including internal purges that targeted alleged Vietnamese agents and former Lon Nol soldiers.

The defence for Chea has argued that the purges were in response to a legitimate military threat from an aggressive neighbour with designs on controlling Cambodian communism. The prosecution, however, in its questioning of witnesses, has sought to determine whether Cambodia was in fact the aggressor.

Prosecutor Joseph Andrew Boyle read from a Vietnamese report yesterday stating that Phan’s regiment “committed many crimes against the local people”, including murdering civilians and razing homes.

“I do not think that our regiment went to attack Vietnamese residents,” Phan said.

“We never reached the residential area on the Vietnamese side,” he added later.

Chea defender Victor Koppe has long argued these reports are Vietnamese propaganda, a claim he repeated yesterday.

Phan also testified yesterday on the widespread fear of being associated with the Lon Nol regime. “I was afraid, even though I was a commander,” said Phan, who had uncles who had served in Lon Nol’s army.

When asked what happened to former Lon Nol officers, however, Phan maintained they were not harmed, despite his earlier testimony, saying they were only “reassigned to raise poultry”.

“Your testimony is that you were scared and they were scared and everyone was scared because they might be assigned to raise poultry, is that correct?” Boyle asked incredulously.

But Phan would only reply, “We were concerned if our relatives were former Lon Nol soldiers.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Construction begins on $1.5B Kampot seaport

    The International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, principally invested by Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd and projected to cost $1.5 billion, has officially broken ground in Bokor town, Kampot province. The multi-purpose logistics and port centre, located in Prek Tnaot commune, will be built on

  • Cambodia eyes key role in electronics, auto hubs in SEA

    Two roadmaps, part of the LDC’s economic diversification plan, were designed to see it through its migration process, but experts say the journey might be arduous, particularly in the presence of two established hubs in the region By 2028, Cambodia hopes to have exited the

  • Hun Neng, lawmaker and PM’s brother, passes away aged 72

    Hun Neng, chairman of the 4th Commission of the National Assembly, has passed away from heart disease at the age of 72 on the afternoon of May 5, according to the Ministry of Information. Hun Neng is the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM meets with US business giants

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has met with a number of major US companies who have expressed interest in investing in Cambodia, in a meeting convened by the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC). A delegation of companies – including Amazon, Meta, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Ford, Visa and Pernod

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180