Cadres Drank Wine Infused With Body Parts, Tribunal Hears

A survivor of the infamous Kraing Ta Chan prison on Wednesday told the Khmer Rouge tribunal that he witnessed torture, mass killings and cadres drinking wine infused with human organs in nearly three years of incarceration under the Pol Pot regime.

Meas Sokha, who was imprisoned as a teenager after members of his family were involved in an attempt to depose a local village chief in 1976, explained how guards at the prison in Takeo province would dry out the internal organs of their murdered victims and mix them with wine, which was later ingested to boost their courage for further killings.

Calvin Saunders and Touch Vorleak, Khieu Samphan's standby defense counsel, attend a hearing at the Khmer Rouge tribunal Wednesday. (ECCC)
Calvin Saunders and Touch Vorleak, Khieu Samphan’s standby defense counsel, attend a hearing at the Khmer Rouge tribunal Wednesday. (ECCC)

“Some cadre…would make [wine] themselves and I would also join in with them in making the white wine, but then they would consume it with internal organs of human beings,” Mr. Sokha told the court.

“Whenever there were killings, the guards would drink wine with a gall bladder. I could see gall bladders drying in the sun and I knew these were from human beings, there were so many dried by the fence, it was put in wine for drinking and to make people brave,” he added.

Mr. Sokha, who was tasked with looking after cattle at the security center, says he regularly witnessed between 20 and 100 killings in a single day.

The witness recalled an afternoon where he watched as about 130 people had their throats slit before their corpses were buried in a shallow pit. He said they were massacred simply because the prison had reached full capacity. Children also fell victim to cadres at the prison, according to Mr. Sokha, who said they were often smashed to death against trees.

Mr. Sokha told the tribunal that prisoners were often forced to confess to being part of the deposed Lon Nol regime, or spies for the U.S. or Vietnam, through interrogation techniques that included semi-suffocating with plastic bags and pulling fingernails out with pliers.

The prison was located in Takeo province’s Tram Kak cooperative, which was overseen by Ta Mok and labeled as one of three “model districts” during Democratic Kampuchea.

Crimes committed at the center are being scrutinized as part of the second phase of the case against aging former regime leaders Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, who are facing a raft of charges including genocide.

Wednesday saw Mr. Sokha return to the stand after his testimony was cut short on January 8, when Khieu Samphan was rushed to the hospital, suffering from dizziness and high blood pressure.

Proceedings were again adjourned late in the day after Khieu Samphan, the regime’s head of state, displayed symptoms of high blood pressure. Nuon Chea, Pol Pot’s “Brother Number 2,” watched much of the testimony via video link from a holding cell after complaining of dizziness in the morning.

Evidentiary hearings are due to continue Thursday.

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