For three hours yesterday at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, Ieng Sary defence counsel Michael Karnavas meticulously dissected more than three days’ worth of testimony by Saloth Ban, attempting to prove that Pol Pot’s nephew was speculating and consequently deal a blow to the strength of his testimony.
Earlier in the week, Saloth Ban, the former secretary-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, testified that Ieng Sary, the ministry’s deputy prime minister, was the “real boss” and held “complete responsibility”, but yesterday, Karnavas attempted to disprove such claims, focusing on the role that Chhim Sam Aok, alias Pang, played in the regime.
Pang was the chairman of government office S-71, one of the two highest-level offices within the regime.
Saloth Ban’s responses to Karnavas’ interrogation painted a picture of a leader with “influence in every ministry”, who reported to no one and “could take people away as he pleased”.
Many Ministry of Foreign Affairs personnel, Saloth Ban said, were removed by Pang or his “people” and taken to re-education centres or the notorious S-21 prison, with what seemed like little oversight or challenge.
“Ieng Sary told me that when Pang arrived, I was to do whatever Pang needed”, Saloth Ban testified.
“Did Pang ever explain to you on whose authorisation he was requesting these people to be transferred out of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?” Karnavas asked.
“No, he didn’t explain to me, and I did not ask him,” Saloth Ban replied.
Through a repetitive line of questioning, Karnavas attempted to demonstrate that Saloth Ban had limited first-hand knowledge about the inner workings of the regime and its decision-making process and had been making statements about such matters based on personal conclusion.
Earlier in the week, Saloth Ban had said that Pol Pot never acted alone when making decisions.
To contac the reporter on this story: Kristin Lynch at [email protected]