Giving evidence for the third consecutive day, a former Khmer Rouge cadre on Thursday denied ordering purges of former members of the Lon Nol administration in Takeo province, contrary to previous testimony heard at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
Riel Son, deputy chief of Takeo province’s Tram Kak district hospital during the Pol Pot regime, last month told the tribunal that district official Pech Chim set down guidelines before the April 1975 evacuation of Phnom Penh for dealing with soldiers and civil servants from the Khmer Republic.
Mr. Son testified that at a meeting in 1976, Mr. Chim, whom he referred to as “Ta Chim,” then instructed village and commune chiefs to research evacuees’ backgrounds and purge those with links to Lon Nol.
Questioned by Judge Jean-Marc Lavergne on Thursday, Mr. Chim denied he gave the orders or that cadre had met to discuss the plans prior to April 17, saying instead that the meeting was held “three to four months” later and the push was spearheaded by Yeay Khom, the Tram Kak district party chief and the daughter of Southwest Zone commander Ta Mok.
“That was the plan set out by the upper echelon and we had to disseminate such a plan…however, this concept was not initiated by myself,” he said.
“On that day, Khom convened a meeting, so what Son said was not correct. I only participated in that meeting which was held by the chief of the party in that area. And I added a little bit further to that circular, as I was instructed by Khom, so I gave a little bit of a speech in addition to what was said by Khom.”
Pressed further on the purges, Mr. Chim, who was identified by Mr. Son as the district chief but claimed earlier this week that he was simply a member of the district committee, frequently went silent or avoided the question.
Presented later with testimony from an unnamed witness—who told of Ta Mok’s sending 90 people to Mr. Chim to work on building a dam, before Mr. Chim accused them of stealing and had them executed—Mr. Chim denied the account.
“I have never encountered such a story. I categorically reject this story,” he said in reply to Judge Lavergne. “No. Never, ever would Ta Mok send a group of people to me,” he added.