Cracks Exposed in Testimony Over Massacre

A defense lawyer for Khieu Sam­phan on Friday picked holes in tes­timony from a witness at the Khmer Rouge tribunal who claimed he saw a massacre of ethnic Vietnamese by cadre in Siem Reap province.

Testifying for a second day, Oum Son, 64, was grilled on claims that he witnessed killings at Wat Khsach in Chi Kreng district. Anta Guisse, a defense lawyer for Khieu Samphan—the former Khmer Rouge head of state, who is standing trial in the second phase of Case 002—spent much of the morn­ing probing Mr. Son on whether he had actually witnessed the execution of a young Vietnam­ese woman named Chantha during the massacre.

After he said that he had seen Chantha die, Ms. Guisse pointed out that he had previously told tribunal investigators that he did not witness the execution. Asked to explain the conflicting accounts, Mr. Son conceded that his memory was not good.

“I don’t know how to answer to this. I have a poor memory. It was dark at that time, and I was also so scared, so I could not remember everything when the incident happened,” Mr. Son said.

The French lawyer said she also found it “bizarre” that the witness would have stayed and watched the massacre for three hours, as he testified, despite claiming he was terrified by what was unfolding in front of his eyes.

Mr. Son was then questioned on claims he made on Wednesday that unmarried women, including Chantha, were disemboweled and had their gallbladders extracted during the massacre.

“Why did you say that the gallbladders were apparently removed, specifically of the unmarried wom­en? Where does that assertion come from?” Ms. Guisse asked Mr. Som.

“I saw the gallbladders dry over there, so I came to the conclusion that it belonged to those dead people,” he said.

“No, I did not see them disembowel Chantha. I don’t know when that happened. However, the next morning, I saw gallbladders hung against the wall, and I did not know when those gallbladders were removed,” he added.

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