A prosecutor at the Khmer Rouge tribunal Thursday branded claims by Nuon Chea’s defense team that documents presented as proof of crimes in Takeo province’s Tram Kak district were forged as “a crazy conspiracy theory.”
Dale Lysak, senior assistant prosecutor, used the final day of documentary hearings in the first segment of Case 002/02 to rebute arguments made by Victor Koppe, Nuon Chea’s defense lawyer, who on Tuesday presented evidence that some people were taken for multiple re-education sessions. Mr. Koppe had argued that this suggested the Khmer Rouge was not “universally brutal” in Tram Kak.
“All of the examples read by the Nuon Chea defense were people who ultimately ended up at Kraing Ta Chan, a place where there was no reeducation, only death for 99 percent of prisoners sent there, as we have heard in this trial,” Mr. Lysak said Thursday, referring to the regime’s district security center.
He pointed out that the “crimes” committed by victims who ended up at the prison after repeated re-education sessions were chiefly stealing food to eat.
“It is as if defense argument is that of ‘Sorry Mr. New Person, sorry we could not feed you, but we tried to reeducate you. Now that has failed, you must go to Kraing Ta Chan and die for stealing food to eat,’” Mr. Lysak said.
He also lambasted the defense team’s claim that documents relating to Tram Kak and Kraing Ta Chan were forgeries.
“None of this makes any sense. It is, where I come from, something we would call ‘a crazy conspiracy theory,’” Mr. Lysak said.
In response, Mr. Koppe reiterated his position that some of the records were unreliable, before questioning the neutrality and relevance of authors Ben Kiernan, Henri Locard and Meng Try Ea, whose works the prosecution had used as evidence.
“[T]hese documents cannot be relied upon as evidence in any significant way, unless Kiernan, Locard and Ea appear in court to explain their methodology, to allow us to test the strength of their conclusions and to learn more about their views,” he said.
The defense lawyer for the regime’s former Brother Number Two—who is on trial for crimes against humanity alongside Khieu Samphan—voiced particular concern over Mr. Kiernan, who he said was “a biased Marxist scholar, strongly supporting the Vietnamese cause.”
He then called into question Mr. Locard’s credentials as a “leading expert,” saying his work should be “taken with a bag of salt” due to the French scholar’s “irrelevant” qualifications and his previous work for the prosecution at the tribunal.