Khieu Samphan’s arrest by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia is thought to be imminent, and his brother on Sunday said that the former Khmer Rouge head of state had one final message as a free man: Read my new book.
“Khieu Samphan said if people want to know the truth, read Chapter Five,” said Khieu Seng Kim. “This is his last wish before he is sent to court, he stressed many times.”
Chapter Five of Khieu Samphan’s “Considering Cambodian History from Ancient Times to the Time of Democratic Kampuchea”—5,000 copies of which were released last week—is a 157-page account of the regime of Democratic Kampuchea.
Khieu Samphan characterizes the Khmer Rouge struggle as a massive uprising against social injustice and foreign domination. He also writes that “brutal” and “illiterate” regional authorities were responsible for the horrors inflicted during those years.
“He told me not to worry about him because he did not kill anyone,” said Khieu Seng Kim, adding that his brother told him: “I am not afraid to go to court.”
Khieu Samphan was taken by RCAF helicopter to Calmette Hospital Wednesday, after he collapsed at his Pailin home. He has regained his health and would like to go home, but he remains at the hospital under watch of armed guards, his wife So Socheat said Sunday.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said Sunday that should the ECCC issue a warrant for his arrest, the government would have no choice but to implement it.
“When Khieu Samphan is in the hospital and the ECCC issues a warrant, OK, we have to do that,” he said.
Khieu Samphan has not been charged by the ECCC, but judgments continue to pile up in the court of public opinion.
Interior Minister Sar Kheng said Khieu Samphan was responsible for the lethal collectivization policy of the Khmer Rouge, the Khmer-language Kampuchea Thmey Daily newspaper reported on its front page Saturday.
Speaking at a bridge groundbreaking ceremony in Battambang town, Sar Kheng reportedly said, “We all worked in collectives because of Khieu Samphan.”
Khieu Sopheak confirmed Sar Kheng’s comments. “People can say what they want about the Khmer Rouge: freedom of expression,” he said, adding that his boss’s comments had nothing to do with the quickening pace of prosecutions at the ECCC.
Sar Kheng reportedly traced the Khmer Rouge’s collectivization policy back to Khieu Samphan’s 1959 doctoral thesis for the University of Paris—an interpretation not everyone agrees with.
A copy of that thesis, “Cambodia’s Economy and Industrial Development,” could not be obtained Sunday, but journalist Elizabeth Becker described the thesis of Khieu Samphan and fellow University of Paris student Hou Youn as moderate.
“Despite later attempts to describe the work of Khieu Samphan in particular as the blueprint of the 1975 revolution in Cambodia, these thesis are remarkable for their moderate, scholastic tone. They would become the model for the socialist experiment [then-Prince Norodom] Sihanouk attempted in the sixties,” Becker wrote in her book “When the War Was Over.”