A 1973 Mercedes-Benz currently for sale on the Internet auction house eBay and described as once “owned” by Pol Pot is not one of the Khmer Rouge leader’s limousine, a former chauffeur of the late Brother Number One claimed on Monday.
The beautifully refurbished stretch Mercedes, which is on display at the Renakse Hotel in Phnom Penh, has made news headlines because of its alleged links to Pol Pot and drawn a steady stream of journalists, photographers and curious onlookers. With an asking price of $70,000, the car had received one bid matching that price on Monday afternoon, according to the eBay Web site.
However, the man who drove the late Khmer Rouge leader between 1975 and 1979 said Monday that Pol Pot never used a long-wheelbase Mercedes, which has three rows of seats and is the model currently up for auction.
“If this car has three rows of seats, then this is not a car he used,” said the former Khmer Rouge driver, who asked that his name not be revealed. According to the driver, Pol Pot had two, regular-length Mercedes that he used in Phnom Penh.
“Both were left behind when the Vietnamese entered Phnom Penh [in 1979],” he said, adding that Pol Pot escaped from the city in another larger car more suitable for use in rough terrain.
According to the eBay entry, because the Khmer Rouge destroyed all official documents during their regime “no official papers for the car exist.”
The Web site, however, lists photos from the Documentation Center of Cambodia where cars similar to the one being auctioned can be seen at Pochentong Airport—now Phnom Penh International Airport—during the Khmer Rouge period.
DC-Cam Director Youk Chhang said Monday that he has seen at least 10 different limousines featured in photos from the Khmer Rouge period.
“There is no way of knowing if the car being auctioned is one of those featured,” Youk Chhang said.
“I think people realize there is a fascination among foreigners for this kind of [thing] and they try to make money out of it,” he added.
Ly Kim Seng, the wife of Nuon Chea, second-in-command to Pol Pot during the Khmer Rouge years, agreed that the car described to her as being on display at the Renakse Hotel was not similar to the one she had seen Pol Pot use during the regime.
“He had no car with three rows of seats,” she said.
The car’s current owner, Paul Freer, could not be reached for comment on Monday.