A civil party at the Khmer Rouge tribunal Monday recounted gruesome stories of family and friends who were murdered and raped during the Democratic Kampuchea regime, including a nephew who was disemboweled by his own wife.
Chou Koemlan, who lost a young daughter due to malnourishment and a son who was killed for attempting to pick potatoes without permission, told how her nephew, a former monk, was defrocked, forced into marriage, then killed by his wife under Khmer Rouge orders in 1976.
Ms. Koemlan said Khmer Rouge cadres had told the woman to kill her husband after they learned that he was the son of a military officer under the former Lon Nol regime.
“They asked his wife if she dared to kill her own husband and she said yes, because she would kill the enemy,” Ms. Koemlan said.
“He was tied up, disemboweled, and the gallbladder was removed to make herbal medicine,” she said, adding that she did not witness the killing firsthand, but heard about it from a family member.
Ms. Koemlan, who said her husband was also killed because he had worked as a medic in Lon Nol’s army, went on to tell the court of how she heard two of her friends were raped after they complained about rice rations.
“The messenger from my village came to the village with the information about the two women because all male comrades in a commune raped [them],” she said.
“That information was relayed by a village messenger and he said that anyone who made a mistake in the village would be sent to the commune office and that women would be raped,” she said, adding that her two friends “disappeared” afterward.
Ms. Koemlan said she had witnessed Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan and Brother Number Two Nuon Chea, who are both standing trial for crimes against humanity and genocide, inspecting a canal worksite in Tram Kak district alongside Pol Pot and Southwest Zone chief Ta Mok.
“During the Democratic Kampuchea regime, Ta Mok accompanied the three Khmer Rouge leaders…they were Pol Pot, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, while Ta Mok was in a separate vehicle. They just walked and pointed their fingers saying areas should be dug deeper,” she said.
Ms. Koemlan said that she was informed of the visit by a unit chief, adding that she smiled at the former head of state, whom she recognized from a newspaper article in the 1960s. She said she regularly saw Ta Mok riding his bicycle.
Oum Suphany, the first civil party in Case 002/02, also concluded her evidence Monday. Offered the chance to give a statement on the impact the Khmer Rouge regime had on her, she lambasted the two aging defendants.
“Through the Great Leap Forward regime of Democratic Kampuchea the only thing left was total annihilation…. I think we were already in a living hell,” Ms. Suphany said.
As has occurred on previous days, proceedings were adjourned about 45 minutes early because Khieu Samphan was suffering from fatigue and high blood pressure. The trial continues today at 9:00 a.m., but will break for lunch earlier than usual, at 11:30 a.m., to allow Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea additional time to rest.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Chou Koemlan’s daughter was killed for attempting to pick potatoes without permission. It was her son. The article also incorrectly stated that proceedings would adjourn at 11.30 a.m. The trial is scheduled to continue in the afternoon as usual.
© 2015, George Wright. All rights reserved.