Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Health issues hold up Khmer Rouge court proceedings

Health issues hold up Khmer Rouge court proceedings

Health issues hold up Khmer Rouge court proceedings

Health concerns nearly halted the proceedings twice at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday, with both the accused Ieng Sary and the morning’s witness, Suong Sikoeun, saying that it was impossible for them to continue participating.

Before the day’s testimony began, Ieng Sary’s defence counsel, Ang Udom, stated that his client’s health had “deteriorated rapidly” and was having trouble following the testimony.

Udom asked the court to adjourn or postpone testimony from witnesses directly related to Ieng Sary’s defence if the condition persisted.

“We have not received a clear request from you, so we shall not make a decision,” said chamber president Nil Nonn. “If you wish to make a formal request, you can do so through the procedure given.”

Midway through the morning session, Suong Sikoeun’s health issues threatened to derail the proceedings.

“Following my heart surgery and operation, my ears cannot hear clearly, and my eyesight is not that good as well, and I see that my health is deteriorating, and if I continue today, probably my health will exacerbate, so I would ask the court that I be allowed to take a rest today so that I can resume my testimony tomorrow afternoon,” Sikoeun said.

The court granted Sikoeun’s request, ending his testimony at noon, but rather than adjourn, it called to the stand Ong Thong Hoeung, an intellectual who had returned to Democratic Kampuchea in 1976 to participate in what he thought would be his country’s rebirth.

Instead of rebirth, Hoeung spent yesterday afternoon, his 67th birthday, recounting his return to an empty airport and internment at a re-education facility.

“I was wondering what country I was in,” said Hoeung, noting that he was so confused on arrival that he would have flown back to Beijing if he had the chance.

When his belongings and passport were taken by an airport employee, who tossed them into a bucket, Hoeung said, he “dared not ask” why.

“I understood the atmosphere over there,” he said. “I looked at the expressions of the people around and they were very serious. I did not even dare to smile at them.”

Both witnesses continue their testimony today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart White at [email protected]


  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said