Witness Remains Silent Over Jarai Death Order

The Khmer Rouge official tasked with recording interrogations at the Au Kanseng Security Center in Ratanakkiri province refused on Tuesday to say whether he had ordered the execution of over 100 Jarai prisoners who were briefly detained there.

With his name withheld on orders from the court, witness 2-TCW-900 on Tuesday addressed the Khmer Rouge tribunal for a second day via video-link from Oddar Meanchey province.

Asked to elaborate on his testimony from Monday, when he said orders to “resolve” the logistical problems posed by the ethnic Jarai prisoners had been interpreted as instructions to murder them, he denied that he had killed anyone at the security center.

“I never personally committed any act of killing any human being,” he said, also denying bearing witness to any killings.

However, asked by Victor Koppe, a lawyer for defendant Nuon Chea, if he had ordered the killings, he exercised his right to remain silent.

“Were you the one who ordered the killing of those Jarai?” Mr. Koppe asked.

“I do not respond to the question, Mr. President,” the witness replied, after being warned by Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn that answering may incriminate him.

The witness then denied a claim by former Au Kanseng chief Chhaom Se—made to investigators from the tribunal—that the killing had been carried out by the same soldiers who had brought the Jarai prisoners to the center.

“Regarding the killing of the Jarai people, that task was performed by Tin, the deputy of Se,” the witness said. He told the court that Tin was in charge of security at Au Kanseng and, along with himself, answered directly to Chhaom Se.

In the second phase of Case 002 against regime leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, the tribunal is currently focusing on crimes allegedly committed at security centers under the Khmer Rouge.

Asked about conditions at Au Kanseng, the witnesses said most of the prisoners were soldiers from Division 810, which was in charge of the area, who were being punished by the regime. He said they fell into the least threatening category of prisoner.

“If they were allowed to go outside and work in the rice field or plantations, but they were under constant guard…they would fall into the third category,” he said.

He said that from June 1978 on, new prisoner guidelines allowed guards to be more lenient with such detainees regarding where they worked and what they ate.

“The food ration had to be provided to prisoners sufficiently, in an appropriate manner,” he said, with prisoners and guards even eating together. The witness said rice, MSG and fermented fish were delivered to the security center, while fruits and vegetables were grown on site.

The witness also said that both guards and prisoners received medical treatment when necessary, mostly for malaria, which he described as the greatest health risk in the province.

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