Civil Party Says Ex-Cadre Tried to Silence Him

A civil party told the Khmer Rouge tribunal Thursday how former cadre tried to befriend him after the fall of the regime in attempts to secure his silence over atrocities he witnessed during his incarceration at Kraing Ta Chan prison.

Soy Sen, who was locked up in the Takeo province security center between 1974 and 1979, told the court how ex-prison chief Ta Chhen later told him he was “like a son” to him and even offered him money.

“[Ta Chhen] was the head…and he said that he considered that I am his son so he told me I can ask him for help and he suggested I say we were both prisoners who were tortured,” Mr. Sen said.

He added that Ta Chhen, who now lives in Anlong Veng district—the final Khmer Rouge stronghold, which finally fell to government forces in 1998—also offered him money to help with his business.

Mr. Sen said he has encountered a number of former prison guards who live within 10 km of his home, including two he described as Kraing Ta Chan’s “cruelest,” named Sang and Duch.

“[Sang] used to talk to me and tell me that if I am asked anything just say we were both prisoners at that time, now he addresses me as ‘bong,’” Mr. Sen said, using the Khmer word for “older brother.”

When interviewed by a reporter last year, Duch, who Mr. Sen accuses of raping women with rifles among other heinous crimes, claimed he only carried out menial tasks inside the prison.

The afternoon’s proceedings began in private after civil party lawyers submitted a request that any further questions relating to former Kraing Ta Chan guards be conducted in a closed session. Mr. Sen had expressed concerns about the potential ramifications he could face due to the presence of local cadre living near his Tram Kak district home.

After a 90-minute private session, the chamber announced that a decision on the request would be delayed, but temporarily forbade any questions relating to specific cadre still living in close proximity to Mr. Sen.

The civil party went on to describe further macabre tales, including that guards would torture women by taking pliers to their nipples while some prisoners were beaten and dropped into an “underground prison” before being dragged back above ground by rope.

Mr. Sen also recounted how envelopes with red ink on the underside would arrive at Kraing Ta Chan before soldiers would quickly be assigned to carry out killings.

Hearings at the tribunal continue Friday.

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