A former Khmer Rouge official on Tuesday refuted accusations that he had avoided returning to Mondolkiri province after the fall of the regime because his hands were “stained with the blood of many people.”
Testifying at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia via video link from Oddar Meanchey province, Sao Sarun, 92, a former secretary of Sector 105—now Mondolkiri—denied that atrocities were carried out on his watch. In 2012, Mr. Sarun also testified in the first phase of Case 002.
Under questioning from co-prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian on Tuesday, the ailing former official was faced with a statement provided to the Documentation Center of Cambodia by a witness named Sal Ra, who claimed Mr. Sarun had avoided returning to Mondolkiri due to the purges he oversaw.
“He does not dare to go to Mondolkiri because his hands are stained with the blood of many people,” the prosecutor read from Mr. Ra’s statement after Mr. Sarun said he could not remember the last time he visited Mondolkiri.
“Do you have any explanation why people in Mondolkiri would think that so many people died when you were in charge of the sector?” Mr. Koumjian asked.
“That is not true,” Mr. Sarun shot back.
“I went to Mondolkiri a few times,” he continued, changing the subject. “The first time, I stayed there for three months, and I stayed in the provincial town for one week. The governor of Mondolkiri and the commander of soldiers celebrated and threw a party when I was there.”
Mr. Sarun conceded that killings took place under the Khmer Rouge but absolved himself of responsibility before embarking on a rant as Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn attempted to interject.
“Killings did happen in the Pol Pot time—individuals would accuse one another and kill one another,” Mr. Sarun said.
“The one who made that report has no good intention and they wanted to kill Khmer people by saying that in the report,” he said, referring to Mr. Ra’s statement, adding that those who accused him of presiding over purges simply “want to be famous.”