A witness at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Monday recounted watching cadre torture a prisoner at Kraing Ta Chan prison by dousing her in acid before they disemboweled another woman and cooked her organs.
Keo Chandara, who answered Norodom Sihanouk’s call to join the communist guerrillas in 1970 after Lon Nol overthrew the former king in a bloodless coup, said he was unsure why he had been incarcerated in the Takeo province prison in March 1975, but claimed to have witnessed horrendous scenes of murder and torture.
“One of the interrogators held a pincer, and another held a bottle of acid and they ordered [a] woman to sit on the ground and then they used a pincer to torture her on her nose, ear and cheek…until she was bleeding,” said Mr. Chandara, who treated Khmer Rouge soldiers in the early 1970s.
“The other interrogator started using the sulfuric acid to pour on her and she was screaming and there were about 10 prisoners who were ordered to sit and watch the torture,” he said.
The witness added that after an onlooker began to faint she was strung up by her jaw and disemboweled before soldiers cooked her organs.
“The interrogator asked her, ‘Who led you to betray?’ and the victim could not respond so the interrogator then used a hook to hook her jaw and string to pull her up and a knife to cut her chest…then he took the liver together with heart and gallbladder and then used [them] to terrorize people by touching them on our faces and heads,” he said.
The witness told the court his mother was close with infamous Southwest Zone commander Ta Mok, who he said intervened to secure his release after 24 days in Kraing Ta Chan and five days in a smaller detention center called Krabei Preay.
According to Mr. Chandara, who became a local commune chief after the fall of the regime, Ta Mok requested his expertise on how to use a radiography machine before he was sent to a local worksite.
Victor Koppe, international defense lawyer for Nuon Chea, raised discrepancies in the dates Mr. Chandara claimed to have been incarcerated in Kraing Ta Chan and pressed the witness on his inability to explain his arrest just prior to the “liberation” of Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975.
“[Y]ou are a good friend of Ta Mok as I understand, you are a true revolutionary, we are a few days before the liberation, you get arrested, detained for four weeks, you don’t remember any questions being asked, you were not asked to write a confession,” said Mr. Koppe, who put to the witness that he was never detained at Kraing Ta Chan or other prisons.
Mr. Chandara refuted the suggestion.
Hearings continue Wednesday.
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