Khmer Rouge Tribunal Hears of Regime’s ‘Hereditary Enemy’

A former Khmer Rouge captain who worked with the regime’s head of state, Khieu Samphan, until 1991 reiterated at the Extra­ordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambo­dia on Wednesday that the Pol Pot re­gime perceived Viet­nam as its he­red­­itary enemy, but gave conflicting statements as to whether Viet­nam­ese civilians were targeted at sea.

Prum Sarat served in Division 164 under Meas Muth—who has been charged with a number of crimes in the tribunal’s Case 003 —and began his third day of testimony by confirming to the prosecution that he also worked with Khieu Samphan after the regime was overthrown by the Vietnamese.

“In 1991 I worked with him…. I was part of the security team, that is for him. I also worked within the vicinity in the office where he worked,” Mr. Sarat said, before denying that he referred to the Democratic Kampuchea head of state as “tricky” in a past statement.

Mr. Sarat—who claimed Tues­­day only Vietnamese soldiers were targeted at sea—was then grilled further on the regime’s policies to­ward Vietnamese civilians. He was presented with testimony from a witness who served under Meas Muth and told the court last month that instructions were given to “kill them, even if they were babies.”

“Did you hear the regiment chief of Regiment 140 or your battalion chief tell you that the Vietnamese had to be killed because they were your hereditary enemies?” senior assistant prosecutor Vincent de Wilde asked Mr. Sarat.

“He used to make that point very clearly. However, as I said, I had no responsibility concerning the tasks which were described in that document,” he replied.

The witness gave convoluted and contradictory testimony through­out the day, and in the afternoon in­sisted that Vietnamese civilians were, in fact, not targeted.

“To my recollection, I am pretty sure that at the time there were no such principles and through the meetings that I attended I did not receive any instructions or or­ders to kill infants or to kill Viet­namese civilians,” he said.

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