A former messenger for the Khmer Rouge told the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on Wednesday how reports he delivered resulted in purges at Kraing Ta Chan security center once responses were returned from Takeo province’s Tram Kak district office to the prison’s chiefs.
“When there was a letter from the upper echelons they would make the decision based on that,” said Van Soeun, alias “Suon,” adding he would be sent to guard the prison’s exterior as the killings took place to ensure no inmates escaped.
Mr. Soeun—who claimed he lost four uncles and an aunt at the prison—also agreed with a statement from former prison guard Srei Than, alias “Little Duch,” who appeared as a witness at the tribunal last month and stated that “99 percent” of inmates were “liquidated.”
The witness, speaking at the trial of Pol Pot’s former second-in-command Nuon Chea and the regime’s head of state Khieu Samphan, repeatedly maintained that he never took part in interrogations or killings but said he risked a fate similar to prisoners if he spoke to local villagers about the goings-on inside the prison.
“I was threatened and warned not to let anything out of my mouth and if I talked about it I would be in danger. I was told that when I learned any information…I should not say anything about it otherwise my head would fall down on the earth,” Mr. Soeun said.
Despite previously claiming not to have witnessed atrocities in Kraing Ta Chan, Mr. Soeun on Wednesday admitted that he once saw prisoners being tortured, yet also contradicted himself at various points during his second day of testimony.
When questioned about a statement made by a former member of the prison’s six-man security guard unit named Sim, who claimed to have seen prisoners being suffocated with plastic bags and beaten to death, Mr. Soeun said: “Yes, I went into the kitchen three or four times and witnessed the same that Sim did.”
In the final half hour of Wednesday’s hearing, parties were allowed to make oral submissions based on a request by Nuon Chea’s defense team to adjourn proceedings or postpone testimony of the next two witnesses.
Victor Koppe, international defense lawyer for Nuon Chea, argued that statements newly added to the Case 004 file were “extremely relevant” to the current case, as they explore the hierarchy of the Southwest Zone.
Mr. Koppe said this would impact the next witness, but senior assistant prosecutor Dale Lysak said that only one of the 110 interviews added to the case file were relevant.
Hearings in Case 002/02 continue Thursday, when the Trial Chamber is due to rule on the request from Nuon Chea’s defense team.