Nuon Chea Offers Assistance With Sam Bith’s Prosecution

pailin – Former top Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea said he will cooperate with a Battambang pro­vincial court prosecutor who in­tends to question him about former Khmer Rouge commander Sam Bith’s alleged role in a deadly 1994 train attack in Kampot province.

“If the prosecutor came here, I would meet him, because this is for the justice of Sam Bith and also for the court,” Nuon Chea said Saturday in an interview at his small wooden home near the Thai border.

Authorities arrested Sam Bith, 69, in May in Battambang pro­vince, where he maintains a home along the highway that runs between Battambang town and Pailin.

He is accused of taking part in an ambush of a train in Kampot province in 1994 during which 13 Cambodians were killed and three Western backpackers were taken hostage and later executed.

In June, Nuon Chea and other former Khmer Rouge rebels said in a statement that Sam Bith was in a Samlot hospital at the time of the train attack and killings.

Last week, Battambang Court director Nil Non said he would send a judge to meet with Nuon Chea to confirm whether Nuon Chea signed the statement.

Nuon Chea and other former Khmer Rouge officials claim that Sam Bith had been dismissed from his post as Khmer Rouge regional commander for Kampot weeks before the train ambush.

On Saturday, Nuon Chea said he had not heard of the recent life prison sentences handed down by Phnom Penh courts to former Khmer Rouge commanders Nuon Paet and Chhouk Rin.

“Sometimes I do not listen to the radio,” he said.

Nuon Chea also said he does not know Chhouk Rin or about the situation among former Khmer Rouge rebels now living in Kampot province.

However, he said, “there is no problem in Pailin. There are disputes, but only over stealing.”

Nuon Chea said his health, hampered by a stroke and high blood pressure, continues to trouble him. “The stroke has made me lazy,” he said.

Asked whether he expected to  stand trial for crimes he may have committed during the Khmer Rouge regime, Nuon Chea said, “I don’t think about the trial and I do not know what they will do.”

“I am the same as usual. I don’t think about the past,” he said.


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