Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer Rouge court hears of mass killing

Khmer Rouge court hears of mass killing

Khmer Rouge court hears of mass killing


In late April of 1975, victorious commanders from the guerrilla group that would come to be known as the Khmer Rouge summoned Pursat province military officials from the defeated regime to the provincial headquarters.

Wearing uniforms of the crushed Khmer Republic, which Lon Nol led after staging a coup in 1970, the assembled numbered up to 3,000.

Via a loudspeaker, the new Khmer Rouge overlords told them they had nothing to worry about, and that they would be re-integrated into the army. Some, they vowed, would even be given higher ranks.

“They left the meeting happy and undisturbed,” a court officer said yesterday, reading a description of the event that was added on Monday to the case load of the first mini-trial of Case 002.

What happened to the officials next, of course, had nothing to with promises made.

They were, according to the document read out in court, brought in caravans of 30 to 40 people to a killing site called Tuol Po Chrey, on an elevated piece of ground near the western shores of Tonle Sap.

Their hands were tied behind their backs.

“There were not enough trucks to transport all the victims at once, so a number of round trips had to be made,” the court officer said.

The soldiers were said to have spent the entire day shooting the Khmer Republic officials. They buried them in their uniforms in mass graves with the help of bulldozers. Extra bodies were dumped in a small lake nearby.

The execution site was, according to the allegations, operational from April, 1975 until some time in 1997.

Eliminating former Lon Nol civil servants, soldiers and police was part and parcel of the Khmer Rouge’s policy of creating a homogenous society free of the taint of the old regime.

The evidence contained instances when the three senior leaders on trial in Case 002, Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary, showed an understanding of the policy of “targeting of specific groups”.

It also called attention to a party document released in September, 1975 that specified the only two types of classes — peasants and workers — allowed to exist in the new order.

But that wasn’t the last word on the matter. Today, co-accused Nuon Chea is supposed to respond to the allegations in the killing-site report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Freeman at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group