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

  • 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

  • EU timber deal in firing line

    A committee of more than 20 national and international organisations filed a petition to the EU on October 10 to prevent it from signing a timber trade agreement with Vietnam, noting that the deal would be disastrous to the Kingdom’s forests. The petition claims Vietnamese timber

  • Kim Sok to keep up fight ‘for change’ from Finland

    Kim Sok, wanted by the Kingdom’s authorities for defaming the government, reiterated on Sunday his determination to continue helping to make “a real change” to Cambodian politics after receiving asylum in Finland, even as a government spokesman mocked the political analyst over the development.

  • PM: Programme to recover Vietnam War missing back on

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced the resumption of the MIA programme to recover the remains of American service personnel missing after action on Cambodian soil during the Vietnam War. The programme was suspended for more than a year after the US government imposed visa