IT may be coincidence but during last week's visit by United Nations legal experts
to look at the feasibility of a trial for Khmer Rouge leaders, one of those leaders,
Ke Pauk, decided it was time to start rewriting his own history.
While KR experts say Pauk - "Brother No. 12" in the regime's 13-man inner
sanctum - was probably the bloodiest of them all after Ta Mok, the man himself does
not believe his reputation is justified.
Speaking in Siem Reap last week, Pauk said he was unconcerned about moves to bring
former KR leaders to justice, saying he was just a simple farmer.
"I could not create the war. I had no money or weapons," he said. "If
they take me to court I will not be afraid to answer and I will not be scared at
He chose an interesting case to draw a parallel: Nazi Germany. "If I was like
the mastermind and created the war I would not be afraid to die, like Hitler died.
"But I am a farmer and uneducated. How can I be afraid? They lead me to do it...
If they want know I will [tell them], I'm not scared to say. Now, I won't tell you,
but when the United Nations calls the trial, I will tell [them].
Pauk maintains he didn't know that the regime killed people, and that now he doesn't
understand why it did.
"When we were in the revolution we were told to respect the 12 principles, such
as not harming the people's interest and the people's lives... not take even one
piece of chilli, one banana, not one piece of thread.
"When Pol Pot did this I had to think as well, but I didn't know what I could
Pauk said if the UN wanted to investigate "it is up to them. I'm not going to
defend the criminals but this is very difficult to say... I'll go [before them],
but as what sort of witness?
"I know only that Pol Pot killed people. In fact, all the Khmer people can bear
witness that Pol Pot killed people.
"It's no problem for me.
"Hun Sen is the prime minister and if the prime minister decides I must go,
I will go, because I respect the government", even though, he added, he and
the likes of Pailin's Ieng Sary answered the government's call to break away from
Ta Mok in the first instance.
When asked whether such an international tribunal would be successful, he said: "I
think it is very difficult to do this because now Cambodia wants peace, not war.
"I agree with what Hun Sen said that the main people who should be investigated
are Pol Pot, Ta Mok, Noun Chea and Khieu Samphan.
"Pol Pot is dead. But the rest? They are stubborn."