Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - At KRT, the co-accused in their own words

At KRT, the co-accused in their own words

At KRT, the co-accused in their own words


As another day of document hearings continued at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday, observers were granted a brief respite by two of the co-accused themselves in the form of candid video interviews.

In one video clip – filmed before his arrest – co-accused Nuon Chea gave his own definition of “smashing”, a word often used by the Khmer Rouge as a euphemism for executions.

“You smash a person’s selfish nature, the part drawn from personal privilege,” he said, maintaining that smashing was purely ideological.

“Because materialism makes you selfish.  It meant smashing your bourgeois [misconceptions].”

When asked by an off-camera interviewer why he hadn’t taken the position as party secretary, the former Brother No 2 said that he had recognised Pol Pot’s “analytical mind”, and realised that he could attract badly needed intellectuals to the cause.

“At that time, some people considered me an intellectual, but I considered myself only a low-level intellectual,” he said, with a chuckle.

In another video, Democratic Kampuchea head of state Khieu Samphan said that he too had been struck by his first impression of Pol Pot – then still known as Saloth Sar.

“I didn’t know he was party secretary,” he said, noting that no one had ever considered Sar leadership material.

 “I was not the only one surprised.  Everyone was surprised.” After seeing the young revolutionary debate, however, Khieu Samphan was a convert.

“We were all impressed; before, we only knew Saloth Sar as a musician and a soccer player,” he went on, expanding on Saloth Sar’s facility for laying out a course of action.  

“When we left the meeting, we understood the situation, and understood the measure quite well.  It was the only path to take.”

The document hearings will continue today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart White at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • 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

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman

  • China-Cambodia tourism forum held

    The Cambodian tourism sector must be prepared to welcome a growing number of Chinese tourists, as they lead the globe in the number of outbound travellers and were responsible for the most visitors to the Kingdom last year, the country’s tourism minister said on