Former Khmer Rouge senior leader Khieu Samphan was thrust into the spotlight at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday as victims of his brutal regime detailed speeches he had given as head of state of Democratic Kampuchea.
One victim, identified only as civil party 2-TCCP-1063, testified he was a soldier in the former Lon Nol regime, which was toppled by the communist revolution. He said his brother and father were taken away and killed, while his sister – married to a Lon Nol soldier – was drowned in a fishing net by the Khmer Rouge.
The civil party was imprisoned with 500 others until 1977, when he was transported from Svay Rieng province in the East Zone across the country to Battambang, via Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov market. That is where he saw Khieu Samphan make a speech to an audience of thousands.
Samphan told the crowd the revolution had been “in order to eliminate the Lon Nol regime . . . to eliminate the capitalists, feudalists, the intellectuals”, the victim recalled. “He didn’t want them to exist, that’s what he meant in his speech,” he said.
Samphan then placed a package of food and clothing into the civil party’s hands. Prior to his testimony, fellow civil party Kheav Neab also testified that she had seen Khieu Samphan hand a similar package with food and clothing to one elderly woman at the capital’s Central Market.
But when prosecutor Vincent de Wilde pressed for details about where the group of people – who were given blue kramas, or scarves – were to be sent, Khieu Samphan’s defence lawyer Anta Guisse said such questions were outside the scope of the trial, which was “a violation of the rights of the defence”.
De Wilde countered by saying it was necessary to determine whether the blue kramas were distributed as a humanitarian gift, or if they were used to identify East Zone cadre who were to be purged. The trial continues today.