Khmer Rouge Left Me In a State ‘Lower Than Animals’: Witness

A former messenger told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Tuesday that his life has been left in a state “lower than animals” as a result of the regime, which he said was dedicated to smashing bourgeois classes along with some within its own ranks.

The witness, a civil party identified only as 2-TCCP-223 due to his role in ongoing investigations, told the court on Monday that he witnessed second-in-command Nuon Chea—on trial for crimes including genocide alongside head of state Khieu Samphan —deliver a speech warning that “treacherous” Northwest Zone leaders were planning to kill civilians.

A former messenger testifies for the second day at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (ECCC)
A former messenger testifies for the second day at the Khmer Rouge
tribunal in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (ECCC)

Under questioning by defense lawyers on Tuesday, the witness said Nuon Chea never offered information about how he knew the purges were imminent, but said it was a regime policy to destroy perceived enemy classes.

“The line and the policy of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, which I was informed of and instructed, was that Democratic Kampuchea specified, very clearly at that time, that the three classes would be smashed: feudalism, capitalism and petty bourgeoisie,” he said.

The regime waged class war, and also war on those it distrusted inside its own ranks, he said.

“As we could see, before 1979 those who were considered enemies of the revolution were killed,” he said. “Those who were considered their own people, or their own party members, were also killed.”

Like all civil parties, he concluded his testimony with a statement of impact, during which he broke down in tears as he explained the psychological toll of his experiences during the Pol Pot regime.

“I do not know how to describe in words my hardship. It’s beyond imagination. I cannot take it. I cannot accept it,” he said. “I lived in a very difficult situation. I was separated from my parents, siblings and relatives and I had nowhere to live.

“At this point in time, I have nothing,” he added. “At present, I live in a status which is lower than animals as a result of what happened during the regime.”

Today, the tribunal’s Supreme Court will hand down the long-awaited decision in the appeal against the guilty verdicts received by Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan in 2014 in the first phase of Case 002. The regime’s two highest-ranking surviving leaders were convicted of crimes against humanity, mostly in relation to the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh, and were sentenced to life in prison.

Due to the presumption of innocence until a ruling has been handed down in the appeal, a decision to uphold the verdict would mark the first time any senior Khmer Rouge leader has been officially recognized by the court as being guilty of crimes committed during the regime.

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