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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.


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