A survivor of the Prey Sar work camp described Wednesday how she was used like a workhorse to plough a field, during proceedings at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Wednesday.
Chin Meth, 51, said that she was sent to Prey Sar in Phnom Penh in late 1977 following interrogation at an unknown detention center. She said that at one point, she and three other women were ordered to pull a plough across a field that had already been turned over.
“One female was so weak she fell, and so we both fell,” Ms Meth said.
The man guarding the group beat both women until the first one “had a seizure there on the ground,” she added.
Defendant Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, was responsible for both the more notorious S-21 prison and the Prey Sar re-education center. He acknowledged Wednesday that Ms Meth had been detained at Prey Sar, which was also known as S-24.
Ms Meth described “miserable” living and working conditions at the camp. After six months, she said, “I was in very bad shape. I was so skinny, and I had a rash on my skin. I looked like a dead person already.”
Eventually, she and three other women attempted suicide by drinking a mixture made from tree bark. “But we did not die,” she said.
During questioning Wednesday, it was unclear how long Ms Meth spent at Prey Sar. She is scheduled to continue her account today.
On Wednesday morning, civil party Phork Khan continued his increasingly muddled account of the Khmer Rouge years.
Large and obvious contradictions between Mr Khan’s words in court and the written statement submitted with his civil party application were once again highlighted.
In the statement, which was based on an interview with Mr Khan, he said that he was personally interrogated and threatened with torture by Duch. Mr Khan denied that account in court.
On Tuesday, Mr Khan claimed to have escaped from beneath a pile of bodies at the Choeung Ek killing fields after the Vietnamese army entered Phnom Penh on Jan 7, 1979. His written statement, however, said that he escaped after hiding in a pond near the S-21 compound.
Mr Khan said Wednesday that he did quickly read the statement submitted to the court before thumbprinting it.
“I personally read the document briefly. I did not complete the whole reading of the document, because I was told it was urgent,” he said, adding that his oral testimony was the true story.
No documents were presented to corroborate Mr Khan’s story of being detained at S-21 in 1978 and early 1979.
Under questioning by defense lawyer Marie-Paule Canizares, Mr Khan said that he had attended tribunal proceedings last week, when four survivors described their detention in meticulous detail.
However, he insisted, “No NGOs or other people helped me make up a story.”
During a press conference Wednesday, tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen reminded reporters that civil parties like Mr Khan are not under oath, unlike tribunal witnesses.
“The information they share with the court does not have the same weight,” he said.
When contacted by telephone Wednesday, the tribunal’s international prosecutor, Robert Petit, said that he would not comment on this week’s continuing confusion regarding the stories offered in court by civil parties.