Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer Rouge court witness coy on details

Khmer Rouge court witness coy on details

Khmer Rouge court witness coy on details

In a full day of testimony at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday, former sector secretary Sao Sarun denied any implementation of Communist Party of Kampuchea policies in his area, despite being read several graphic accounts of starvation, persecution and death by exhaustion.

The 85-year-old appeared unable, or unwilling, to recollect any damning details of the alleged criminal policies of the Khmer Rouge, at one point telling civil-party lawyers: “We did not have the right to force anybody to marry.”

Throughout the day, civil-party and defence lawyers attempted to use other people’s statements to undermine and contradict the less-than-lucid testimony of Sao Sarun.

Sao Sarun flatly denied the veracity of the statements, including scholarly articles read to him by Brother No 2 Nuon Chea’s defence counsel.

“I deny all of this. Those people are exaggerating,” he said.

“Were pregnant women entitled to receive medical treatment because of their fragile condition?” lead civil-party lawyer Elisabeth Simmoneau Fort asked the witness.

“Pregnant women were not allowed to work hard and, after delivering their babies a few months after that, they were allowed to stay home and not to work hard,” he replied.

Simmoneau Fort proceeded to read out a civil-party statement of a woman who lived in the sector in question.

In the account, the woman described being sent back to rice production one week after her child was born, feeling malnourished and regularly collapsing on the rice field embankments.

At the conclusion of her questioning, Simmoneau Fort sharply addressed the witness.

“I regret I have not been able to refresh your memory with civil-party statements from those living in Sector 105,” she said.

Even Trial Chamber judge Jean-Marc Lavergne appeared incredulous at the witness’s lack of candour when Sao Sarun said he knew nothing about the 1979 trial of Pol Pot, even though he was living with the late leader in Anlong Veng district.

In the afternoon, the district secretary and one-time sector secretary told Nuon Chea’s defence counsel that from the late 1960s until 1975, the sky in Mondulkiri was “blackened” with American bomber aircraft.

“People had to flee the province. They had to flee for their lives and run to the countryside to avoid being bombed on,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release