Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Samphan points finger at PM

Samphan points finger at PM

Samphan points finger at PM

3 Khieu samphan KRT ECCC

Former head of state Khieu Samphan told the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday that he was less responsible for the Khmer Rouge’s activities than Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In the first of four days of “victim impact hearings”, the court focused on civil parties’ statements about suffering they had endured under the Khmer Rouge but also allowed civil parties to ask questions of Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, the remaining defendants in Case 002.

The court had held similar hearings during the trial of former S-21 prison director Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, but yesterday’s were the first such hearings for the present trial.

Responding to a civil party’s question as to why so much suffering occurred under the regime, Khieu Samphan rose and spoke at length.

“First of all, I would like to inform you that I am not the Khmer Rouge, and I cannot bear responsibility for those accusations,” said Samphan.

“Let me give you an example. In the case of Mr Hun Sen, will he be [held] responsible for the actions committed by the Khmer Rouge?”

The current ruling party’s connections to the Khmer Rouge have come up in court before. But it was unusual for a defendant to stand up and speak at all, much less implicate the prime minister, who was an Eastern Zone commander under the Khmer Rouge before he fled to Vietnam.

“In my case,” Samphan went on, “it’s even further removed [than] Hun Sen’s instance. I did not know anything at all of what happened between 1975 and 1979.”

As he had done before, Samphan maintained he had known nothing about the killings and starvation under the regime because he spent those years at administrative offices in Phnom Penh.

He did acknowledge awareness of the move to abolish schools, stating that the lack of skilled Cambodians at the time would have made formal schooling ineffective.

“I wish to express my sympathy to you, to your suffering and your experience, and your loss of your parents, relatives and your beloved ones,” he added.

Personal loss was the common thread in the testimony of the four civil parties who spoke yesterday.

“I was by myself, without any support,” said Yos Phal, a policeman under the Lon Nol regime, echoing the sentiments the others recalled feeling after they saw their family members and friends die from starvation or killed by Khmer Rouge cadres.

These others had been, respectively, a mother of four, a young boy and a transgender woman when the Khmer Rouge evacuated them from their homes and forced them into hard labour.

Weeping, Sou Sotheavy, a transgender woman born a man, said she was raped, tortured and forced to marry a woman by the Khmer Rouge.

“Today, I am here to express my statement of suffering, and I am here to find justice,” she said. “I have been waiting for this moment for several years already.”

Sotheavy joined Phal in calling for “collective reparations” in the form of a library for books and records of the Khmer Rouge and a stupa to commemorate victims – two reparations that civil party lawyers have been requesting for some time.

Co-accused Nuon Chea declined to answer civil parties’ questions yesterday. Tribunal hearings are scheduled to resume on Wednesday.

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

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • 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