As a Khmer Rouge soldier stationed in Ratanakkiri province since 1975, Oung Ren had seen several comrades purged; in 1977, his commander told him he, too, had been denounced, the witness told the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday.
“He told me that 870 required me to go to Phnom Penh tomorrow,” Ren said, referring to the regime’s central office. “Of course, I was concerned after hearing that. I did not know what would happen.”
According to a letter the prosecution presented in court, from S-21 head Duch to a “respected brother”, Ren was one of 58 soldiers named as enemies of the regime by former comrade Keo Saroeun, who had been sent to the Phnom Penh prison earlier in 1977.
“I was concerned that I could meet the same fate,” Ren said.
Orders for such arrests must have originated with “high ranking people”, Ren said, because they always came from central office 870.
Ren was about to leave for the capital, to meet almost certain death, when his superior “said that the situation was not that good” and that he should stay put with him.
Earlier in the day, the defence finished questioning former security guard Sar Veak, who reiterated he frequently had seen Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan visiting Khmer Rouge administrative centre K-1.
Khieu Samphan counsel Arthur Vercken probed Veak about undocumented interactions with the investigating judges before his recorded interviews, pursuing a line of questioning through which the defence often has sought to cast doubt on the extraction and presentation of testimony.
In response to Veak’s statement that he had been interviewed on a particular day, Vercken read from Veak’s recorded December 5, 2007, interview, in which an investigating judge referred to a conversation with the witness “yesterday”.
“It seems like you met with them the day before,” Vercken said. “Do you remember this?”
Veak responded: “Before I signed on the record of the interview, I had been interviewed on several occasions, and people came to see me several times before. I don’t remember the exact date or the names of the people who came to see me, but I believe these were the same people who came to see me on 5 December.”
Like the day before, Nuon Chea and Ieng Sary were ordered to follow the day’s proceedings from their holding cells because they were “fatigued and dizzy”.
To contact the reporter on this story: Justine Drennan at [email protected]