Khmer Rouge Foreign Policy Hastened Occupation, Tribunal Hears

Leaders of Pol Pot’s regime wrongly believed they were more powerful than their neighbors and adopted a reckless foreign policy that contributed to Vietnam’s invasion and occupation of the country, an expert witness told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Thursday.

Testifying for a third day during hearings relating to armed conflict, expert witness Stephen Morris, a U.S.-based researcher and author of “Why Vietnam Invaded Cambodia,” said the regime’s leaders believed Cambodia’s revolution was superior and could “achieve successes that other people would not consider practical.”

“I believe that Pol Pot was trying to demonstrate his potency, so to speak, to all his neighbors in the false belief that his revolution, being the purest communist revolution so far, was able to intimidate all rival powers,” Mr. Morris said.

“What I’m suggesting is that the leadership of Democratic Kampuchea, because of ideological reasons and a false sense of their own strength, did not share the prudent foreign policy of the late King Father Sihanouk,” he added.

As a result, he told the court, the regime’s policy hastened Vietnam’s invasion and occupation of Cambodia.

“The Vietnamese had always wanted to have a controlling interest in the affairs of Cambodia,” he said. “But what Pol Pot’s policies did with regard to Vietnam was to give Vietnam a license to intervene, or the apparent license to intervene in Cambodia and eliminate Cambodia’s independence.”

The trial of Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan continued in the afternoon with testimony from Preap Sokhun, who recounted becoming pregnant after being raped by a man who she was forced to marry.

Assigned in 1975 to clear forest and plant cotton trees in Kompong Cham province, Ms. Sokhun said that weeks before giving birth, her husband was accused of being an “enemy” and was arrested.

Her testimony is set to resume on Monday.

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