A former Khmer Rouge cadre in Kompong Thom province who was labeled a “chief executioner” by an earlier witness at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on Tuesday dismissed the accusation but admitted that villagers wanted to kill him after the fall of the Pol Pot regime.
On June 3, witness Uth Seng—who was a laborer at the January 1 dam worksite in Santuk district during the Democratic Kampuchea period—told the court that he saw a feared executioner named “Lun” wandering around villages with bloodstained weapons. Mr. Seng said the man was jailed after Vietnamese forces overthrew the Khmer Rouge, and that many villagers wanted to seek revenge.
On Tuesday, Yean Lun, a former unit chief in Kompong Thma commune’s Kong Sao village, admitted that some locals harbored “hatred” against him for his actions during the regime and said his life might have been in danger had he not been jailed by the Vietnamese.
“In general, the villagers didn’t really hate me that much, only certain individuals had a very strong hatred toward me…of course, during the course of your work, not everybody liked what you did,” Mr. Lun said.
“If I were not arrested and imprisoned, I would have been exposed to being killed, as people were seeking revenge against me,” he said.
Despite admitting that he had been imprisoned in 1979 for “the act of killing,” Mr. Lun equivocated when faced with the accusation that he was a chief executioner known to walk around with bloody knives, swords and clubs.
“No, that statement is not accurate. During the regime, not only I had to resort to doing what I did, millions of people were doing the same thing,” he said. “Everybody was monitoring everyone else. It’s unfair to point out that I was the sole executioner.”
Quizzed about a purge of Cham Muslims in his area, the witness explained that many people were arrested on the orders of high-ranking Khmer Rouge officials in the province. “The Cham people were arrested with the order coming down from the sector and the provincial level. The commune chief went to receive those instructions. When he returned to the commune, he implemented the instructions,” he said.