A former Khmer Rouge medic – and relative of former East Zone secretary Sao Phim – yesterday told the Khmer Rouge tribunal that he began fighting a battle on two fronts, against both Vietnam and Pol Pot, after he learned of the “treasonous” mass executions of his fellow cadres.
The witness, identified by the pseudonym 2-TCW-1065, served as a medic during intense border clashes with the Vietnamese before eventually accepting their help.
The witness said he shared a blood tie, through his grandmother, with reputed “traitor” Sao Phim, who was suspected of planning a coup d’etat. Phim took his own life in 1977 after being surrounded by his Khmer Rouge comrades.
“Sao Phim said Pol Pot did not betray all of us, but I myself believed [he] betrayed us, because Pol Pot killed people,” he said. “An army came with tanks to surround [Sao Phim] . . . he had no choice but kill himself.”
With great attention to detail, the witness recounted how, in 1977, a large group of people at the Eastern battlefront were called to a meeting and executed. One soldier managed to escape on foot, but was shot in the arm as he fled.
“He ran to see me and told me cadres invited to the meeting had all been arrested . . . And I realised Pol Pot committed treason,” the witness said.
One person spared by these mass killings was current National Assembly President Heng Samrin, who was assigned to another office, the witness said.
The witness took to the stand after two-star General Ieng Phan completed his testimony from Monday, in which he said Khmer Rouge leader Ta Mok was “very strict in his words”.
“‘Above his head there was his hat, and above his hat there was only sky’ . . . That expression was used when we wanted to refer to his power,” Phan said, indicating no one was Mok’s superior.
Phan also recalled the moment when he was twice wounded in battle against the Vietnamese. “I was wounded in my leg, and while I was being carried through the rice field, we stepped on a mine and a person who was carrying me at the front died,” he said, adding mines were laid by both sides.
“That is the art of war, we had to use all kinds of tactics or strategies,” he said.
Defence lawyer Victor Koppe questioned Phan about Pen Sovann, Cambodia’s first post-Khmer Rouge prime minister, who passed away on October 29 at 80. “Unfortunately, [he] died two days ago. So he will never testify” here, Koppe said.