Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Testimony begins on Trapeang Thma

Testimony begins on Trapeang Thma

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Testimony begins on Trapeang Thma

As the Khmer Rouge tribunal resumed yesterday, a former mobile unit member was the first to testify about the Trapeang Thma dam’s bloody past and how the forced labour he endured at the worksite continues to haunt him today.

Civil party Sen Sophon was a rice farmer in a Kandal province cooperative when he was transferred in mid-1977 to join a mobile unit at the Northwest Zone’s Trapeang Thma dam worksite – the third and final worksite to be examined in the current Case 002/02 against senior leaders Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea.

The dam, which was built by thousands of workers, is alleged to have been a site of extensive abuses.

“We started work at 4am in the morning . . . and if we didn’t wake up, we would be whipped,” he said.

“I had to carry three cubic metres of earth every day, and if I didn’t complete the quota, I wouldn’t be allowed to eat, and [would] have to continue working until 10pm. Only then I could eat.”

The 16-hour work days, Sophon added, were made more unbearable by a recurring food shortage and a total lack of sanitation, proper living conditions and medical attention for sick workers.

“I had to force myself to wake up every day, even if I didn’t have the energy to work because if I refused to go, I would be accused of being an enemy and I would be taken away and killed.”

Sophon was at the dam site for two months before he was transferred to another worksite.

Before leaving, however, Sophon witnessed the transfer of supervision of the dam’s from Northwest Zone leaders to Southwest Zone ones, specifically to Case 004 suspect Im Chaem.

“They were crueller than the others, and when they replaced the Northwest cadres, more people died.”

Sophon will continue his testimony today.

Testimony began during the afternoon proceedings yesterday after the morning was spent deliberating the Office of the Co-Prosecutors’ Friday disclosure of new evidence on the dam site relating to the Case 004 investigations.

The Trial Chamber ruled that it will cancel next week’s hearings to give parties time to review the documents.

MOST VIEWED

  • Website advises travellers to stay clear of Angkor Wat

    An Australian website has advised travellers to avoid Angkor Wat during their trip to Southeast Asia because the ancient temple is showing signs of rapid erosion and faced water management issues. In a recent article entitled Best places to go in 2020: 12 destinations you should avoid

  • First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

    Twenty-five Cambodian-Americans landed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, marking the first such deportations of the year. “On Wednesday, US law enforcement authorities deported 25 Cambodian nationals that immigration judges determined had no legal basis to remain in the US,” said Arend Zwartjes, spokesperson for the US

  • Passenger taxi boat ridership sinks despite free services

    Passenger taxi boat traffic has dropped by about five per cent compared to the same period last year, despite the government providing free service for garment workers until next year, Phnom Penh Autonomous Bus Transportation Authority director Ean Sokhim said on Monday. In 2018, the Phnom

  • Kingdom drafting new law to strengthen immigration

    The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday said it had formed a working group to draft amendments to the Law on Immigration. Its secretary of state Sok Phal told The Post that the amendments will strengthen the management of immigrants in line with the current situation.

  • Qatar Airways to connect Doha and Siem Reap town

    Qatar Airways Company QCSC has announced a new route connecting Qatar’s capital Doha with Siem Reap, a move hailed by local officials as a significant step to boost tourist numbers. A Qatar Airways representative, speaking at the Kuwait Aviation Show, announced on Thursday that

  • Jica seeks to turn PP, towns into smart cities

    Japanese International Cooperation Agency (Jica) representatives have sought support from Siem Reap’s Apsara National Authority (ANA) to transform the ancient capital into a smart city. The call was made in February last year after the government approved three cities to join the Asean Smart