Teams debate visit to Takeo execution site

Teams debate visit to Takeo execution site

The Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday concluded its session with parties debating the merits of an admittedly “spontaneous” request last week for the trial chamber, parties in tow, to visit the site of Takeo province’s Kraing Ta Chan security centre.

Nuon Chea defender Victor Koppe had suggested the field trip on March 5 in an attempt to suss out who was “lying” about what could or could not be seen by cadres working at the “very small site”.

“I’m not suggesting that this witness or his fellow unit members should have been able to see everything, but the idea that you wouldn’t be able to witness the executions, for instance, of a hundred prisoners . . . it’s just simply impossible,” Koppe said at the time.

Yesterday, Koppe maintained that, despite maps and photographs included in the Case 002 case file, a site visit had been “extremely helpful” to his team in visualising the area.

“You wouldn’t buy a house based on a map of the house and some photos,” he said, adding that upon seeing the site, the assertion that 15,000 people were executed and buried there seemed “completely impossible”.

Prosecutor Vincent de Wilde, however, said that while “in principle” such a visit would be “interesting”, the site would bear little resemblance to Kraing Ta Chan in the 1970s, and offered no reason to “go on site and waste a day”.

“The building no longer exists, and the trees have changed, so I don’t see how a visit to Kraing Ta Chan could really add much to the site identification report drafted by the co-investigating judges,” he said.

Court president Nil Nonn promised a ruling on the request “in due course”.

Earlier in the day, former Khmer Rouge cadre Nut Nov elaborated the hierarchy of civilians’ perceived allegiance to the Democratic Kampuchea regime, noting that despite being a low-level functionary himself, he still wasn’t accorded the highest categorisation of “full-rights” inhabitant.

“Full-rights” inhabitants – or “base people” with rural backgrounds – were considered “proper people who adhered to the revolution”.

“Depositees” – those newly evacuated from the cities – were screened for past ties to the fallen Lon Nol regime.

Despite being a base person himself, Nut was considered a “candidate” inhabitant due the questionable backgrounds of one of his brothers and a nephew.

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