A former prisoner at Tram Kak district’s Kraing Ta Chan security center told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Monday how she witnessed guards washing blood from their bodies and knives after carrying out killings.
Vorng Sarun, who worked at a hospital in Takeo province before being sent to the prison in 1977, said she did not witness killing firsthand, but saw what she believed to be the aftermath of a bloody purge.
“Although I didn’t see the act of killing myself, I saw blood stains on them and on the knife [as] they washed themselves in the pond,” Ms. Sarun said.
From this scene the witness concluded that her husband—a surgeon who had disappeared after being incarcerated in the prison—had died in a similar manner.
Soon after arriving at the prison, Ms. Sarun came across a gruesome discovery while searching for her husband’s remains.
“I was told…that my husband was killed by a tree to the west of the compound. I decided to go there and see whether I could find skeletal remains of my husband and…upon reaching the tree’s location I found many skeletal remains and couldn’t say which bones belonged to my husband,” she said.
Ms. Sarun recounted one final prison purge as Vietnamese troops edged closer to Tram Kak, during which a close friend of hers was killed.
“That night we could not sleep because we were afraid we would be killed, but we were not called and only certain prisoners…were called out to be killed,” Ms. Sarun said.
“Then I went to the pond, where I saw those people who cleaned their body with blood and that’s where I saw the scarf of Run and then I knew that surely Run was killed because [her] scarf was caught in the barbed wire,” she said.
Anta Guisse and Victor Koppe, lawyers for Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea—the former Khmer Rouge leaders on trial for crimes including genocide—respectively, questioned Ms. Sarun over claims made by a fellow Kraing Ta Chan survivor that she had a relationship with prison chief Ta An.
“This is simply a rumor,” she responded. “Ta An was the chief of the prison and I personally did not have any relationship whatsoever with a person who killed my husband.”
Hearings continue Tuesday.