Khmer Rouge Survivors Tell of Torture, Sleeping Next to Corpses

Victims of Pol Pot’s regime continued to tell of their sufferings Thursday at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, including a man who described being tortured after his daughter falsely confessed under interrogation that he was a lieutenant under Lon Nol’s administration.

Than Tim, who lived in Phnom Penh and worked in a refugee camp before communist forces captured the capital in 1975, was arrested in 1978 in Takeo province’s Tram Kak district after his daughter was caught stealing sugarcane with Im Yen, another civil party who finished her testimony Thursday.

Civil party Than Tim gives testimony at the Khmer Rouge tribunal Thursday. (ECCC)
Civil party Than Tim gives testimony at the Khmer Rouge tribunal Thursday. (ECCC)

“They stole sugarcane from the unit and she was beaten and was forced to confess that I was a former lieutenant in Phnom Penh and…she was young so she confessed,” he said, explaining that local cadre then beat him in an unsuccessful attempt to get him to admit his guilt.

“I was held tightly and was tied up by string and my hands were tied behind my back; I thought that I would die after that time with no guilt. I was beaten, I was interrogated, I was asked where I was living before…. They asked such questions to me immorally; they called me contemptible,” he said.

The civil party, who was speaking during the second day of victim impact hearings in the second phase of Case 002—which give survivors of the Khmer Rouge an opportunity to detail their suffering —claimed he was then thrown on a horse cart and taken to Tram Kak district’s Ang Roka prison, where he was shackled alongside other prisoners.

“I thought I would die. In fact, one prisoner near me died from the lack of food and his body remained there for two nights and three days before it was removed. He died due to hunger…and he was lying just next to me when he died. That made me think my time would come soon,” Mr. Tim said.

Mr. Tim’s testimony was cut short after the Trial Chamber granted a request made by Victor Koppe, a lawyer for Nuon Chea, for the civil party to return at a later date to give the defense an opportunity to question him more fully on his claims.

The afternoon’s proceedings included testimony from Beng Boeun, who was working at a military office in Phnom Penh when the Khmer Rouge entered the city. He said that his brother-in-law was purged for saying that he knew how to drive a car and do other things considered “bourgeois.”

“The unit chief had asked questions and had joked with him and…my brother-in-law [said he] knew how to drive a car, how to fly a plane and that he knew how to type and since he knew how to do everything, apparently, a few days later he disappeared forever,” Mr. Boeun said.

“Later, my neighbors, who liked me very much, told me that anyone who knew how to do anything would not be saved by the Khmer Rouge so that’s why he disappeared,” he said, adding that another brother-in-law was also killed for picking a coconut.

Friday marks the final day of victim impact statements relating to the Tram Kak district cooperatives.

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