Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Prosecution probes marriage researcher at KRT

Prosecution probes marriage researcher at KRT

Expert witness Peg LeVine gives her testimony on Monday at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia during Case 002/02. ECCC
Expert witness Peg LeVine gives her testimony on Monday at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia during Case 002/02. ECCC

Prosecution probes marriage researcher at KRT

The prosecution at the Khmer Rouge tribunal came out swinging yesterday, attempting to hammer expert witness Peg LeVine on alleged contradictions between her testimony and her research into marriage under Democratic Kampuchea.

LeVine on Monday had bucked conventional wisdom on the subject of the Khmer Rouge’s alleged policy of forced marriage, maintaining that none of her interviewees had been forced to marry – a stance she held firm on yesterday despite pointed questioning from prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian.

Koumjain questioned outright the validity of 29 of the 192 interview subjects included in LeVine’s study who were listed as having been married in 1979. Since the Khmer Rouge were officially toppled on January 7 of that year, Koumjian said, “unless [these marriages] took place in the first six days of 1979, all took place after the regime fell”.

“I would need to go back to my hard data,” LeVine said.

Koumjian also questioned why a list of questions that LeVine put to all of her subjects didn’t include one about whether their marriages were forced.

“There were times I did ask, but I was very careful not to lead,” LeVine countered.

Numerous witnesses and civil parties at the tribunal in recent weeks have testified to having also been forced to consummate their marriages, and Koumjian yesterday asked why nearly half – 84 of 192 – of LeVine’s interviews contained no information on that subject.

“In my hard documents, I have the other data,” LeVine responded, before allowing that many weren’t asked at all.

LeVine said she felt the prosecution was conflating coercion with force, and noted marriages are often arranged in Cambodia under intense social pressure and coercion. She also clarified her that her conclusion was not that forced marriages did not happen, but that they did not happen to her subjects.

The tensest point of the day came when Koumjian read a series of quotations from LeVine’s report that seemed to confirm that some subjects were forced to marry under threat of death.

“Angkar chose, I had to follow Angkar or I would be killed,” one such subject reported.

At the end of his questioning, Koumjian asked: “Do you acknowledge that many of the marriages were done under coercive circumstances against the free consent of those involved?”

“My answer is no,” LeVine replied.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the