Nearly a year after the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia charged former Khmer Rouge official Ao An, better known by his revolutionary alias Ta An, with crimes against humanity, the tribunal on Monday heaped a slew of new charges on the aging suspect, including genocide.
Ta An, 83, was charged by International Co-Investigating Judge Michael Bohlander with committing genocide against Cham Muslims, along with crimes against humanity at a wide range of sites during his tenure as deputy secretary of the Central Zone of Democratic Kampuchea.
The alleged crimes against humanity include the persecution of former Lon Nol soldiers and Khmer Rouge cadre and their families in the central and east zones. He also stands accused of other “inhumane acts,” including forced marriage, rape and enforced disappearances.
The latest charges will be added to already-laid charges of premeditated homicide and crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, and persecution on political and religious grounds.
The sites where the crimes were allegedly committed include Kompong Cham province’s Wat Au Trakon security center, where about 30,000 people are thought to have perished. The pagoda has been a common topic in the segment of Case 002 relating to the alleged genocide of Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese, with many witnesses testifying during the ongoing trial of Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan about mass executions there.
Ta An is the third mid-ranking official to be charged with genocide in the government-opposed cases 003 and 004. Meas Muth, the commander of the regime’s navy, and Ta Tith, the former acting secretary of the Northwest Zone, were charged with genocide in December.
Ta An, who lives in Battambang province, waived his right to be present at Monday’s hearing and was represented in court by his lawyers, according to Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the tribunal.
Richard Rogers, a lawyer for Ta An, said he had been expecting the new charges against his client, but was surprised by how extensive they were.
“We were surprised because we don’t think the evidence supports [the genocide] charge, but we weren’t surprised just in terms of predictability, because some of the others accused in the case have also been charged with that, so we think this follows a pattern in charging genocide,” Mr. Rogers said.
The British lawyer said his elderly client was “very stressed” about the accusations against him.
“He seems to be stable at the moment, but, with anyone of that age, things can change very quickly. We visited him on Friday to talk about the hearing and what may happen, and he seemed stable,” he said.
“I think he’s very stressed, as anyone would be when they feel like they are not culpable for the allegations against them.”