In its first session of the new year, the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday heard testimony from a security guard who said he regularly saw the regime’s top leaders’ comings and goings from Pol Pot’s residence.
Witness Sar Veak, who guarded the administrative hub and residence known as K-1, offered testimony that supported statements from previous witnesses regarding the visits and meetings of accused Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan.
In response to the questions by prosecution and civil party lawyers aiming to establish a chain of command implicating the accused, Veak, like past witnesses Oeun Tan and Saut Toeung, said Pol Pot met frequently at K-1 with “Brother Number 2” Nuon Chea, Foreign Affairs Minister Ieng Sary and head of state Khieu Samphan.
“They came to the place very often,” Veak said, adding that K-1 also was the site of larger meetings of cadres from around the country.
As a guard, Veak said he was not privy to the specific content of the meetings nor to information about conditions under the regime.
“I was a boy who was excited, who liked to play, and I was less interested in politics,” he said.
He said that the information he heard – about the meetings, Nuon Chea’s and Ieng Sary’s frequent visits to the provinces, and the supposedly good living conditions there – came from higher-ranked officials, and particularly from Oeun Tan, who Veak said was elevated to chairmanship of K-1 after denouncing his predecessor as a traitor.
As Khieu Samphan defence counsel Arthur Verken stated, Tan also had testified about the denunciations of traitors but denied the claim he had been one of the denouncers.
“When Tan was questioned about your statements, he said he did not know you,” Verken told Veak.
“Does this seem to be plausible that Mr Oeun Tan could have forgotten you?”
After a pause, Veak responded: “I do not believe that he doesn’t know me... We spent more time together than not.”
They had been close from 1976 until at least 1996, he said.
As Veak gave his testimony, Ieng Sary and Nuon Chea remained in their holding cells.
According to Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn, the health conditions of the two octogenarians had “not changed much”, and they would be better able to follow proceedings from their cells.
New international counsel for Nuon Chea made a quiet entry yesterday, with the team declining to question the witness.
The other defence teams will conclude questioning Veak today.
To contact the reporter on this story: Justine Drennan at [email protected]