Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Witness a ‘liar’, defence claims

Witness a ‘liar’, defence claims

Former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea
Former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea (centre) sits in the courtroom at the ECCC during his hearing in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. ECCC

Witness a ‘liar’, defence claims

The first witness of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Case 002/02, who has given testimony alleging mass killings, torture and cannibalism at the Kraing Ta Chan security centre in Takeo, was accused by Nuon Chea’s defence counsel yesterday of being a “liar."

During his testimony, Meas Sokha recalled a range of horrors he claims to have witnessed during his incarceration at the notorious prison camp, including seeing babies “thrown against trees”, and a prisoner suffocated with a plastic bag.

But Victor Koppe, co-lawyer for defendant Nuon Chea, began yesterday’s proceedings by asserting that Sokha was lying.

Following the trial’s adjournment, Koppe said in an interview that after questioning the witness, he was convinced “even more so” of this.

A key claim in dispute yesterday was Sokha’s recalling of a mass execution.

Sokha told the court on Wednesday that he witnessed on one occasion more than 100 people be led to freshly dug pits because the prison was full.

“Most of them had their throats slit rather than being beaten with bamboo stumps,” he said.

But yesterday, when asked if he saw the executions, Sokha said he “saw the incident after the prisoners were killed. I was the one who buried the bodies”.

He later said that he saw “only one killing” and then left the scene out of shock, before being called back to bury the corpses.

Koppe questioned Sokha over the timing of the alleged executions, and his role in the burial.

“I did not dig the pit,” Sokha said.

Yesterday afternoon, Koppe said Sokha had “made up the story”, which he described as a “tragic and terrible thing to do”.

Koppe contended that while the witness could not be expected to “recall every small detail”, if the incident had taken place, he would have been sure of general facts.

In the afternoon, the ECCC began to hear the testimony of Um Sophany, the first civil party to testify in Case 002/02.

Sophany described her life in a Tram Kok district cooperative after being evacuated from Phnom Penh. Excerpts of a secret diary and a book, which she wrote in the 1980s, revealed details of forced labour and the disappearances of loved ones.

Hearings were adjourned early yesterday afternoon due to Khieu Samphan’s health. They will resume today.

MOST VIEWED

  • Sihanoukville land prices skyrocketing amid breakneck development

    Sihanoukville, the Kingdom’s most famous beach destination for tourists, is seemingly becoming a paradise for Chinese investors as well. The huge influx of Chinese investors has caused property values to rise, especially the price of land, which has nearly doubled in some places near

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Western poll flak is ‘pressure to take the Kingdom hostage’

    After last month’s national elections brought praise for the orderly manner they were run and managed, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman Sok Eysan dismissed criticism from the West as a “violation of the Kingdom’s independence”. He said the attitude of