Guard Describes Stench of Corpses in KR Prison

An ex-prison guard on Thursday described to the Khmer Rouge tribunal how the stench of decomposing bodies emanating from the Kraing Ta Chan security center was so strong it could be smelled from outside the compound, but refuted accusations he was one of the prison’s “most vicious killers.”

Van Soeun, alias “Suon,” said that he did not dare to ask prison chief Ta An about the smell, but that guards stationed inside the compound, in Takeo province’s Tram Kak district, claimed it was from dead animals.

“It was a stinking smell and it was awful smell everywhere inside area of the site…. It came from the pits where corpses were buried,” Mr. Soeun said.

“When we walked past the people who worked inside, we said that we smelled something, and they replied it could be the decomposing body of a dead dog,” he added.

Mr. Soeun, who was also a messenger for the Khmer Rouge, refuted allegations made by two ex-prisoners who claimed he was involved in the execution and planning of atrocities.

The witness denied accusations made by civil party Soy Sen in a 2004 interview with the Documentation Center of Cambodia that accused him and his brother “Saing” of being the “the most vicious killers” at the site.

“Personally, I never participated in any of these events or killings, and I deny it,” Mr. Soeun said.

He also contested testimony given by Meas Sokha, the first witness in the second phase of Case 002—the trial of the regime’s “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea and former head of state Khieu Samphan, who were found guilty of crimes against humanity last year. Mr. Sokha placed Mr. Soeun at a meeting to plan the execution of 100 prisoners in 1977.

“I cannot say anything because that is Meas Sokha’s statement and he was a prisoner there…. How could Meas Sokha know about the execution of so many of these prisoners?” he asked.

The Trial Chamber ruled that the remainder of Mr. Soeun’s testimony would take place in a closed session to allow the witness to be queried about an alleged sexual assault inside the prison.

The afternoon session was dedicated to discussing new evidence in Case 004 that Nuon Chea’s defense team argues could affect upcoming witnesses. Earlier, Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn announced that the testimony of the next witness would be delayed while parties assess the submissions.

Nuon Chea’s lawyers filed a motion Thursday requesting hearings to be adjourned to allow time to assess the relevance of newly added witness statements, which include the identification of factions that plotted a revolt against Pol Pot, a theme central to the defense case.

Hearings are scheduled to continue on Monday.

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