Pol Pot Was ‘Gentle,’ Nephew Tells Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Pol Pot was a “gentle” and friendly person who never used “inappropriate” or abusive words to those around him, his nephew told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Tuesday.

Seng Lytheng, 70, the son of Pol Pot’s older brother Lot Seng, testified that he joined Vietnamese troops in opposition to the Lon Nol regime in 1970 before joining the ranks of the Cambodian communists in 1973.

Pol Pot’s nephew, Seng Lytheng, testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (ECCC)
Pol Pot’s nephew, Seng Lytheng, testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (ECCC)

After he was wounded in action, Mr. Lytheng became a guard for the regime’s leadership—Pol Pot, Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan—in Kompong Cham province, before eventually being sent to Phnom Penh to look after the same leaders at a leadership office where the White Building now stands.

Pol Pot, born Saloth Sar, headed the regime under which an estimated 1.7 million people died during the 1970s.

As well as guarding the regime’s highest echelons, he was introduced to the cook of Ieng Sary’s wife, Ieng Thirith, often referred to as the regime’s “first lady,” and the pair married in a private ceremony—a rare occurrence during the Pol Pot regime when many were forced to marry strangers in mass ceremonies.

Mr. Lytheng, who lives in the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Pailin province, was relatively tight-lipped about what he had seen and heard during the period.

However, when asked about his uncle by Victor Koppe, a defense lawyer for Pol Pot’s second-in-command Nuon Chea—who is on trial alongside former head of state Khieu Samphan—he spoke gushingly.

“Based on my observation of him and my experiences of living with him, he was not a brutal person. He was a polite, gentle person,” Mr. Lytheng said.

“He was friendly with other people and friends. He was not an arrogant person and he never used any inappropriate words that were abusive toward other people,” he added.

The witness said he stayed with his uncle until his death in the mountains of Anlong Veng in Oddar Meanchey province in 1998.

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