A witness at the Khmer Rouge tribunal told the Trial Chamber on Wednesday that there was no plan to “smash” ethnic Vietnamese living within the borders of Democratic Kampuchea—contradicting testimony he provided the day before.
Under questioning, Meas Voeun—who said on Tuesday that he served as deputy commander of the Division 1 military unit in Koh Kong province from early 1976 until August 1978—told the court that “Yuon,” a sometimes derogatory term for Vietnamese, found within Cambodia and its territorial waters were merely arrested.
“The important thing was that Yuon were not allowed to live in Kampuchea. However, there was no plan to ‘smash’ them. They had to be gathered up and sent to the upper echelon. That’s what happened from 1975 to 1979,” Mr. Voeun said.
“For my part, when those Yuon people were captured, I would send them to the upper level,” he said, adding that he had received orders directly from the division commander.
Former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan and “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea are currently on trial for charges including genocide against ethnic Vietnamese.
On Tuesday, Mr. Voeun told the chamber that while ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia were “peacefully sent back to their country by the government” from 1970 to 1975, the situation changed when the Khmer Rouge assumed power.
“We were instructed that the Vietnamese need to be smashed as they did not return to their country,” he said.
The afternoon session at the tribunal on Wednesday descended into confusion when a witness failed to remember numerous details from a 2005 interview conducted by the Documentation Center of Cambodia, leading Nuon Chea’s defense lawyer, Victor Koppe, to question whether 56-year-old En Young had in fact provided the statements attributed to her by the prosecution.
While the prosecution clarified that it believed Ms. Young was the wife of the interview’s main subject —Chan Kea—and had also participated in the interview, it eventually ceased questioning after Ms. Young said she could not recall any details about the presence of ethnic Vietnamese during the Democratic Kampuchea period.
“It was my husband who was interviewed, so this is wrong to conclude that I was the one who was interviewed. In fact, my husband wants to come to the court, but I do not know why I was the one who was summoned,” Ms. Young said.
(Additional reporting by Peter Ford)