A witness told the Khmer Rouge tribunal Wednesday of seeing soldiers rip the gallbladder from an ethnic Vietnamese woman, place it in wine and drink it during a massacre of between 50 to 70 ethnic Vietnamese people at a pagoda in Siem Reap province.
Sien Sung, the first witness in Case 002 whose testimony focuses on the alleged genocide of ethnic Vietnamese during Democratic Kampuchea, described seeing a gruesome attack on a girl named Chantha during a purge at Wat Khsach pagoda in Chi Kreng district in 1978.
“When they walked her out, they mentioned her name, that is Chantha, and I followed. I actually saw them walk into the pit but she was not killed there,” Mr. Sung said.
“She was dragged away about 10 meters from the pit and then they actually bent her head down under her legs and then they removed her gallbladder, placed it in a container of wine and drank it,” he said, adding that the cadre used a bamboo pole that was used for clubbing ethnic Vietnamese to death to stir the drink.
Mr. Sung, who was 18 in 1978, said that despite being “terrified” by witnessing the murder of the girl, who was in his mobile working unit, the presence of an elder man made him “courageous” enough to carry on watching the purge.
In his testimony on Tuesday, the witness told of watching a group of Khmer Rouge soldiers systematically question a group of workers in the pagoda and kill those who admitted to being ethnic Vietnamese.
Wednesday was the latest testimony relating to cannibalism among Khmer Rouge soldiers to arise in the second phase of Case 002, in which the regime’s Brother Number Two Nuon Chea and former head of state Khieu Samphan are on trial for crimes including genocide.
Victor Koppe, defense counsel for Nuon Chea, grilled the witness on his testimony regarding the purge, including the cannibalistic nature of Chantha’s murder.
“Do you know why these young soldiers took the gallbladder from a girl? Have you ever heard why they might have done that?” Mr. Koppe asked, to which the witness said he did not know.
Mr. Koppe then cast doubt on whether Mr. Sung had even witnessed the massacre at all, highlighting that there is no stupa containing bones and skulls at the pagoda, and that the Documentation Center of Cambodia has not registered it as an official killing site.
“Mr. Witness, I put it to you that you never, yourself, actually witnessed an execution or the execution of Chantha, isn’t that true?” Mr. Koppe said.
“I saw the execution at the site, it is true what I saw,” Mr. Sung replied.
Proceedings in the second phase of Case 002 are adjourned until November 30 while legal teams prepare for appeal hearings against the guilty verdicts in the first phase of Case 002, which begin on November 16.