New witness accused of lying

Former Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan
Former Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan sits at the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia during the hearing of case 002/02 late last month in Phnom Penh. ECCC

New witness accused of lying

A Khmer Rouge tribunal witness was yesterday accused of fabricating his imprisonment at Kraing Ta Chan Security Centre, along with claims that he saw executions, including the disembowelment of a woman, at the compound in Takeo province.

In a combative session, Keo Chandara, 80, was challenged by defendant Nuon Chea’s international lawyer Victor Koppe after testifying he was imprisoned in 1975, about five years after joining the Khmer Rouge movement as a young doctor.

His evidence before the Khmer Rouge tribunal differed from his earlier statement to investigators, which placed his arrest in 1973 or 1974.

“It was in March 1975 and early April of that year.… It was not correct when I said 1974,” said Chandara, who worked as a medic, treating Khmer Rouge cadres injured in the war against the Lon Nol regime.

“I was detained at the time of the liberation in April,” he said, referring to the Khmer Rouge’s capture of Phnom Penh.

“So between March and April, it was a total of 29 days.”

Chandara said he was released after an intervention by Southwest Zone chief Ta Mok, a friend of his mother’s.

However, Koppe accused him of lying, as he did previous Kraing Ta Chan witness Meas Sokha.

“You are a good friend of Ta Mok, you’re a true revolutionary. We are a few days before the liberation, you get arrested, you get detained for four weeks, you don’t remember any questions being asked, you weren’t asked to write a confession,” Koppe said.

“Mr Witness, I put it to you that you were never detained, you were never arrested at Kraing Ta Chan and other places, is that correct?”

Chandara – who said he helped exhume 12,000 skulls from the site in 1979 – hit back.

“Your understanding is not correct. You say that I was not arrested, but I was arrested, I have a better understanding than yours, I know myself very well, you are not me.”

Earlier, Chandara had described his capture by his former comrades, saying he was first interrogated before being taken to Kraing Ta Chan, where he said “there were not less than 50 victims executed a day” while revolutionary music blared through loudspeakers.

He said he was tasked with digging mass graves, and once saw someone who resembled Nuon Chea at the compound, who was called “Ta Chea”.

He also recalled being part of a group forced to watch the torture of three women.

One of the women had her heart, gallbladder and liver removed, with the latter taken away to be fried, he said.

The case against former Khmer Rouge leaders Chea and Khieu Samphan continues on Wednesday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Reuters: US Embassy fired 32 staff members for sharing pornography

    The United States Embassy in Phnom Penh has fired 32 non-diplomatic staff members who were allegedly caught exchanging pornographic images and video, including of minors, according to the news agency Reuters. Four sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the content was shared in

  • Our 2018 guide to spending Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh

    Khmer New Year festivities are upon us. For the next few days, travellers will be making their way to their home provinces to eat, celebrate, play traditional games and visit a pagoda with offerings. If you will be staying put in Phnom Penh for the

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the