A witness at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Wednesday backtracked on a previous statement in which she claimed Nuon Chea, the regime’s Brother Number Two, vowed to “wipe out” all traitors within the ranks of the Communist Party of Kampuchea.
Phan Him, 60, who joined the communist ranks in 1973, testified that arrests of North Zone cadres began in 1977 as the region’s commander Koy Thuon was accused of being a traitor.
Ms. Him, who held a number of different positions in the regime and worked in the Khmer Rouge’s Ministry of Commerce, was then asked by senior assistant prosecutor Dale Lysak if she had ever attended a meeting with Nuon Chea, who is on trial alongside former head of state Khieu Samphan for crimes including genocide.
Ms. Him replied that she had, but that he simply educated cadres on increasing rice production and respecting the regime’s leadership.
Mr. Lysak then presented her with a previous statement she had given to the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) in which she claimed Nuon Chea had given a speech soon after the North Zone cadre arrests started.
In the statement, she claimed Pol Pot’s second-in-command said “they would start arresting people to wipe out all traitors,” and that he mentioned “the contemptible Koy Thuon group” as the primary traitors of the revolution.
However, in court, Ms. Him claimed she could not remember details of the speech.
“I cannot recall that,” she said. “It happened a long time ago.”
In the tribunal’s morning session, civil party Chea Dieb concluded her testimony, telling the court of the lasting effect of losing family members at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, including a younger brother who was killed when he was thrown into a well.
“After the regime in 1979, up to the present time, when I am working in the field, I still recall all of my younger brothers and my relatives who died in the period,” she said. “It is so painful to me.”