KR Tribunal Hears of Chinese Division Stationed at Airport

A former Khmer Rouge soldier told the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on Tuesday that about 500 Chinese technicians oversaw workers at the Kompong Chhnang airport construction site during the Pol Pot regime.

Testifying for the third day, Sem Hoeurn, a member of North Zone’s 310 Division during the Democratic Kampuchea period, said the Chinese nationals offered expertise at the airport construction site, where he had been transferred for “refashioning” after a plot by his division leader to seize Phnom Penh’s Pochentong Airport was foiled.

“From my estimate there was one division of Chinese and these Chinese were assigned to be in charge of units in terms of technical work,” he said.

Relations between workers and the supervisors were cordial, Mr. Hoeurn said, adding that the Chinese supervisor in his unit encouraged workers to adopt agricultural methods similar to those being employed in China.

“He gave direct instructions to me and also to my colleagues in the unit and he always advised us how to work so we achieved good quality. When it came to the break time he often gave us advice of the technical aspects in China, the way they did the work in China,” he said.

Mr. Hoeurn, who on Monday told the court how his division commander Ta Oun planned to capture Phnom Penh’s Pochentong Airport, said the ultimate goal of the mysterious “White Khmer” faction was to wage a full coup against the regime’s leadership.

“I knew Oun assigned some forces and considered them as Khmer White or Khmer Sar…and the forces’ aim was to overthrow the Democratic Kampuchea regime,” he said, adding that he only actually heard the term to describe the faction after Ta Oun was arrested in late 1977.

In the afternoon, Him Han, a former clerk in Division 310, took the stand and explained that he attended a meeting at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium in late 1975 where Khmer Rouge leaders Pol Pot, Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea, and Khieu Samphan were present.

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