Two days after a Khmer Rouge guard described the executions of thousands of Lon Nol soldiers after the 1975 fall of Phnom Penh, a second witness told the tribunal Thursday that he had heard the gunshots that killed them ring out through the regime’s radio network.
Former soldier Lim Sat gave his age as 54 but later conceded that he was unsure of it, and knew only that he had been born in the Year of the Monkey.
Tuol Po Chrey in Pursat province’s Kandieng district is known in the tribunal’s Case 002 file as the site of the execution of the soldiers. From 1972, however, the witness knew it as a battleground “where I struggled against the opposing forces,” he said.
After the Khmer Rouge took control, markets were shut and Lon Nol soldiers and officials rounded up. In Pursat province, where Mr. Sat was based with his battalion, former Lon Nol soldiers and officials were made to attend a study session at the provincial hall and were told they would be taken away for a few days, allegedly to meet then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk.
Instead, they were sent to their deaths; tied together by rope with hands bound and shot one at a time in quick succession. It is estimated that about 3,000 were killed.
“When I was at [the provincial hall], I saw them being loaded onto the trucks,” Mr. Sat said. “Two trucks would be allowed to leave the place at a time. My unit was stationed in Kandieng district, 3 kilometers from that place, but about 10 kilometers from Tuol Po Chrey.
“People at Tuol Po Chrey fort communicated through radio, asking us if more truckloads of soldiers and police had to be transported there.”
Mr. Sat said he saw the trucks on “three or four occasions” as they ferried the men out to the killing site.
“My commander was talking on the radio and I heard [the gunshots]. The Tuol Po Chrey location was more than 10 kilometers from the place where I worked. Too far to hear gunshots. Yes, I could hear the gunshots in the background in radio communication. I did not hear anything else.”
A few days later, he said, the zone committee dispatched several bulldozers to the site to bury the swollen corpses.
Those who had any association to the soldiers, be it familial or otherwise, were also targeted, Mr. Sat said. “At that time, more searches were underway to find out who were former Lon Nol soldiers and officials and if we could find them we could bring them there,” he said.
“I don’t know where they would be taken to, but wherever these people were brought to, they just disappeared.”
Hearings continue today.