Former Khmer Rouge Official Denies Involvement in Violence

A former Khmer Rouge official from Tram Kak district told the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on Monday that she did not have the authority to “smash” opponents of the regime, despite having received orders from her superiors to “clean up” enemies.

Khoem Boeun, who was the chief of Tram Kak’s Cheang Tong commune under the name Yeay Boeun, or Grandma Boeun, repeatedly claimed that she had never been involved in any violence or arrests and merely provided reports to the regime’s “upper echelons.”

“I did not have any right to eliminate or smash. When there were reports from the village to the commune, the commune would forward such reports to the district,” Ms. Boeun said.

The witness, who appeared via videolink from Battambang province because she is in poor health, claims to be a distant relative of Im Chaem, a suspect in the tribunal’s Case 004, as well as a cousin of Ta An, the late former chief of Kraing Ta Chan security center. Ms. Boeun said she never visited the prison during her tenure in the regime’s “model district.”

The witness also told the court that local Khmer Rouge officials had the ultimate authority when it came to deciding on marriage applications, with the provision that pairings between “old” and “new” people were off limits—the former being those raised in the countryside and the latter being evacuees from the cities.

“From my knowledge, I knew that new people were allowed to get married with new people, and as for old people, they had to get married with old. New people and old people did not know each other well and perhaps they did not get along well with each other,” Ms. Boeun said.

Under questioning from Marie Guiraud, the lead co-lawyer for the civil parties, the witness outlined the Communist Party of Kampuchea’s definitions of serious and minor crimes in relation to theft.

“We received instructions from the upper echelons. For instance, the stealing of food due to food shortage was considered a minor offense and the serious offense would be for those who acted against the regime and…stole dishes to bury them” out of spite, she said.

Defense lawyers for Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are scheduled to question Ms. Boeun on Tuesday.

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