Democratic Kampuchea’s commerce committee was under the leadership of co-accused Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary, testimony by former national bank deputy director Sar Kimlomouth revealed yesterday at the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
Although the Khmer Rouge regime had eliminated currency and attempted to turn the nation into a communist utopia, China convinced regime leaders to establish a national bank in 1976 with a 140 million yuan “credit expenditure”, the witness said.
“They [the Chinese] said a bank was instrumental to the process [of trade between the two countries],” Sar Kimlomouth said.
For most of the afternoon, senior assistant prosecutor Tarik Abdulhak presented a number of reports from the Ministry of Commerce that summarized meetings the ministry had taken with various international delegations.
Each of these reports contained handwritten annotations about sending the relevant documents to Hem and Van, the revolutionary names for Kheiu Samphan and Ieng Sary, respectively.
“That would mean that Hem and Van were the superiors of the Ministry of Commerce, hence the report was being submitted to them, is that correct?” Abdulhak followed.
“Yes,” Sar Kimlomouth replied.
While the indictment against the three accused in Case 002 states that ex-president and economics PhD Khieu Samphan was appointed to be responsible for “commerce for accounting and pricing” at a Standing Committee meeting in 1975, the links between Ieng Sary and the department are not as well-documented.
After elucidating testimony from the former banker indicating Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary held responsibility for the Ministry of Commerce through the presented documents, the prosecution then attempted to show that, by extension, the two leaders were also responsible for sending nearly 500 commerce staffers to their deaths.
Abdulhak presented another document, “authored by the commerce committee”, calling for the “reassignment” and “return to country” of a staffer named Sok, who was stationed in Hong Kong, along with his wife, Nat.
Abdulhak then produced an S-21 prisoner sheet “in the name of Sok, who is described as the commerce chairman stationed in Hong Kong”, indicating the staffer had been sent to the infamous interrogation and detention facility.
The indictment against Kheiu Samphan and Ieng Sary alleges approximately 482 people from the Ministry of Commerce were arrested and sent to S-21 from 1975 to 1979.
The prosecution will continue its examination of Sar Kimlomouth when court resumes on Monday.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kristin Lynch at [email protected]