Civil parties once again discussed at the Khmer Rouge tribunal how S-21 prison and the deaths that occurred there shattered their lives, with one man saying the loss of a family member helped contribute to the physical loss of his left arm.
Neth Phally told the story of how he was working at a rubber plantation some time after learning that his brother, Bunthy, was arrested and killed at S-21. While on a break, another worker mentioned that the plantation was once used as an execution site during the Khmer Rouge regime. Mr Neth said this piece of information raised the memory of his dead brother and distracted him to the point that he was stuck in the left arm by a falling tree.
“So I am now forever handicapped,” Mr Neth, who is visibly missing part of his left arm, told the court yesterday. “My father died, my brother perished and I have become an amputee and hopeless.”
Mr Neth said that for years he continually searched for his missing sibling, but always to no avail. It was not until the Documentation Center of Cambodia presented him with his brother’s biography recovered in the S-21 archives that Mr Neth could finally confirm that his brother had been killed.
“I tried to locate my brother in various locations,” the 52-year-old said. “My hope ended in June 2004” when DC-Cam found the biography.
Mr Neth’s long search for information on his dead brother was a running theme throughout the day’s testimony at the trial of former S-21 commander Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch. All four civil parties who spoke at the court mentioned instances wherein their loved ones abruptly vanished. Often it took years or decades before they ultimately learned of their relatives’ fates.
An ethnic Khmer woman with French citizenship, Antonya Tioulong spoke of how her sister and brother-in-law both died at S-21 while she and the rest of her family remained in exile in France. As the country’s civil war intensified in 1974, Mrs Tioulong said, her family asked her sister and husband to move to France. They declined, saying their lives were well established in Cambodia.
But when Phnom Penh fell in 1975, the Khmer Rouge took Raingsi Tioulong out of the capital. She was later arrested and made to sign a confession stating she was hired in 1969 by the CIA and in charge of spying as well as in charge of mobilizing the population to oppose the Communist Party and organizing demonstrations against in.
Following the toppling of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, Mrs Tioulong’s cousins went to S-21 and found photos of Raingsi Tioulong and her husband, as well as the confession.
“They have gone through hell,” Mrs Tioulong said of her cousins, adding that they were thin, sickly and missing teeth when she met them. “And what they tell us is horrible.”
The court is expected to continue hearing more testimony from civil parties both today and Thursday. The civil parties addressing the court this week are not being placed under oath.