Cadre Tells of Brutal, Autonomous KR Chiefs

The daughter of former Southwest Zone commander Ta Mok “would not sit still until someone was killed” when dealing with perceived enemies in Takeo province’s Tram Kak district, a former cadre told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Friday.

Aek Hoeun, a witness giving evidence for a second day via videolink from Battambang province, called Yeay Khom—who was the district’s party chief—“wicked” and said she acted with autonomy when rooting out enemies.

“Yeay Khom would not be comfortable without killing anyone; she would not sit still until someone was killed and she really hated those kind of people that I described, that is capitalists, feudalists and reactionaries,” Mr. Hoeun said.

“She would do everything upon her own decision; she would not obey the orders from the higher echelons,” he added.

Mr. Hoeun claimed that Yeay Khom planned to kill him because of his Vietnamese heritage, but he was protected by district chief Ta Chim, his cousin and brother-in-law, who assigned him to be a courier.

Despite her alleged thirst for killing, Mr. Hoeun refuted claims made by Ta Chim and former Cheang Tong commune chief Yeay Boeun that Yeay Khom was psychotic.

“She was not crazy or psychotic, she was normal, and every day she would go and arrest the people. Because these two individuals were subordinates to Yeay Khom, that’s why they supported her,” he said.

Explaining the chain of command in carrying out purges, Mr. Hoeun said district chiefs had autonomy over killings in Tram Kak, and would send militia groups to kill people based on reports submitted by commune officials.

The witness also recounted how Ta Chim ordered the massacre of about 90 suspected thieves, incurring the wrath of Ta Mok for failing to seek authorization for the purge, an allegation Ta Chim has denied.

“He did not receive any instruction from above, he made his own decision to kill those people and that was the reason why Ta Mok was mad with him. If people were killed without approval or knowledge of Ta Mok then Ta Mok would get mad,” he said, adding that Ta Chim was not sanctioned for his actions.

Mr. Hoeun said his relationship with Ta Chim turned sour in January 1980 after the pair argued when he refused a request to clear forest to make way for a plantation.

“When I returned to my place, three young men came and they were weeping and I asked why …and they said he instructed them to come and kill me but they did not want to kill me so at nighttime we fled to a rubber plantation,” Mr. Hoeun added.

Despite this, the witness said Ta Chim recently visited his home for a “casual” chat about his involvement with the tribunal.

Hearings continue on May 18.

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