Khmer Rouge Traded Pigs, Gold For Supplies, Ex-Official Claims

The deputy chief of the Tram Kak district hospital during the Pol Pot era told the Khmer Rouge tribunal Thursday of how he traded pigs for medical supplies and gold for wristwatches with Vietnamese nationals, on the instruction of higher-ranking officials.

Riel Son, who was assigned to the hospital post in Takeo province after 1975 despite being a blacksmith by trade, said he was given gold belonging to Southwest Zone commander Ta Mok, also known as “The Butcher,” to exchange for watches that would be worn by Khmer Rouge soldiers.

“At that time, we ran out of currency, so the district commerce office said it would request to Angkar and then I went to collect gold from the district commerce office and I was told the gold belonged to Ta, and Ta meant Ta Mok,” Mr. Son said.

The witness also said the Southwest Zone commander arranged for pigs to be bartered with traders over the border when medical supplies dried up at the district hospital.

“One day, I ran out of the main medicine, and when I saw [Ta Mok], I approached him while I was on the road and told him that I had run out of the main medicine,” Mr. Son said.

“He wrote me an instruction to go to District 55 to meet with…Ta Chom, and Ta Chom gave us three or four pigs and then I bartered the pigs with the Vietnamese for medicine,” he added.

Mr. Son also claimed to have witnessed, before the revolution, Khieu Samphan—the former Khmer Rouge head of state, who is on trial alongside “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea—being stripped naked by police in a Phnom Penh market.

“I was a student in Phnom Penh and I went to pick up a food container…. I saw it with my own eyes but from a distance…. He was stripped naked and the rickshaw drivers, some of them, offered their scarves,” he said.

Proceedings were adjourned at the end of Mr. Son’s testimony because the next witness was ill.

Hearings will continue Monday.

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