A former mid-level Khmer Rouge official from Mondolkiri province described the chain of events that led from his joining the regime in 1968 to being detained for a month in 1977, during testimony on Friday at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
Net Savath explained how he was recruited by the two most senior officials in the province, Ham and Kham Phuon, whose violent deaths in Phnom Penh in 1977 resulted in the detention of him and his family at the Phnom Kraol sector office, known as K-17.
Spending his first two years as a messenger and guide for the regime, Mr. Savath recalled having taken Nuon Chea—one of the two accused regime leaders in Case 002/02—as well as Pol Pot’s wife, Khieu Ponnary, across the then sparsely populated province.
In 1970, he went to work in the Communist Party of Kampuchea’s economic section in the province. Six years later, he said he moved to the Koh Nheak district hospital, working directly under Kham Phuon. Following Kham Phuon’s murder of his brother Ham, Mr. Savath said he was rounded up with his family and driven to K-17.
“After we got off the vehicle and went into the [building], they ordered us to stand and they tied us up,” he said, recalling that 80 men, women and children were kept there for a month, with limited access to food and water.
Mr. Savath said he was only questioned once during his detention.
“I was taken out of the detention room and questioned about who actually inducted me into the party. I said Kham Phuon,” he recalled.
Under questioning from Victor Koppe, defense counsel for Nuon Chea, Mr. Savath denied knowledge of any plots involving senior cadre conspiring with the Vietnamese or other groups, despite previous statements to investigators suggesting otherwise.
“I didn’t say that, maybe it was wrongly put in the statement,” he said.
On Monday, the tribunal will begin hearing testimony from anthropologist Alex Hinton concerning the treatment of Cham Muslims.