Alleged Khmer Rouge District Chief Denies Role

A brother-in-law of Ta Mok identified as a former secretary of Takeo province’s Tram Kak district during the Pol Pot regime was on Monday warned about the penalties for perjury after repeatedly denying at the Khmer Rouge tribunal that he held the post.

Neang Ouch, alias “Ta San,” refused to acknowledge his role as head of Tram Kak despite being presented with a barrage of evidence to the contrary, maintaining that he was only an assistant to the district committee.

Neang Ouch gives evidence at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Monday. (ECCC)
Neang Ouch gives evidence at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Monday. (ECCC)

“As for my own position, no I am not afraid, as I was directed to lend my hands to assisting in the rice fields and building the dams,” Mr. Ouch responded when international co-prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian asked if he feared discussing his role during the Khmer Rouge era.

The witness admitted to being instructed to welcome Swedish and Chinese delegations to Democratic Kampuchea, but claimed he was given the assignment due to his experience receiving visitors when he was a teacher in the 1960s.

Mr. Ouch said he was moved to Tram Kak district in 1976 after being accused of committing a “moral offense” after a report was sent to Southwest Zone commander Ta Mok—whose younger sister he was married to—accusing him of having “mischievous hands.”

Mr. Koumjian then read out numerous statements from former Khmer Rouge soldiers—as well as evidence from civil parties and witnesses in the second phase of Case 002, in which “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea and Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan face charges including genocide—identifying him as an ex-district secretary.

The witness was also questioned over an interview the Documentation Center of Cambodia conducted with Im Chaem, who was charged with crimes against humanity in Case 004 last week, who claimed Mr. Ouch was once her deputy in Koh Andet district.

After Mr. Ouch rebutted every piece of evidence, Mr. Koumjian requested that his Cambodian colleague read out Article 545 of the Criminal Code relating to penalties for perjury, which carries a prison term of up to five years.

“I think given the circumstances of the testimony, the amount of contradictions between this witness and other witnesses regarding his positions…that it’s only fair to this witness that he be advised on the consequences of false testimony,” Mr. Koumjian said.

After the article was read out, the international co-prosecutor again asked Mr. Ouch if he was ever a Tram Kak district committee member. The witness maintained his stance, claiming that all those who identified him as such were either “confused or made a mistake.”

Mr. Ouch’s testimony continues Tuesday.

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