When his five children and half-Vietnamese wife were loaded onto an ox-cart and taken away by Khmer Rouge cadres to attend a “study session” in 1977, Lach Ny became “psychotic” for almost five months, his brother told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Wednesday.
Lach Kry, 69, told the court he had been harvesting rice near his brother’s house in Prey Veng province alongside 20 other people, including his brother, when they witnessed three militiamen arrive with an ox-cart and take away his sister-in-law Sum San, and his five nieces.
“We were standing and watching and wondering why she was called for a study session,” he said, describing the event as “shocking” for everyone in Po Chen Dam village, whom he said lived peacefully with ethnic Vietnamese residents before, during, and after Democratic Kampuchea.
After his family disappeared, Lach Ny, who died in 2006, spent the next four or five months “in a psychologically unstable state,” his brother told the court as part of the ongoing case against Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, which includes charges of genocide against ethnic Vietnamese.
“When he missed his children and wife, he would call other people’s children as his children, and other people’s wives as his own,” Mr. Kry said of his brother.
He explained that prior to the Khmer Rouge gaining control of the area around the village in 1970, there had been 10 ethnic Vietnamese families in the village, but most fled, returning only after the fall of the Khmer Rouge.
The three ethnic Vietnamese residents who stayed in the village disappeared, he said.
“If the husband was Vietnamese, he would be taken away, not the wife. But if the wife was Vietnamese, she would be taken away with the children,” he told the court, describing a policy that has been noted by a number of witnesses and civil parties during recent proceedings.
Mr. Kry said he had seen a Vietnamese man named Ngang disappear after being ordered to cut vines, while a Vietnamese neighbor named Chuy was ordered to work in the forest and vanished.