Witness Tells of Gunfight Between KR Leaders

When the two most senior Khmer Rouge officials in Mondolkiri province failed to return home after being summoned to Phnom Penh in 1977, chaos broke out as relatives of one of the officials were swiftly arrested, a witness told the Khmer Rouge tribunal Thursday.

Chan Tauy, 56, told the court that he had been a courier, cleaner and cook for the deputy secretary of Koh Nhek district in Mondolkiri, then called Sector 105.

Chan Tauy testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Thursday. (ECCC)
Chan Tauy testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Thursday. (ECCC)

Recalling a day in late 1977, Mr. Tauy said a messenger for Sector 105 secretary Ta Ham told him that the official had died in Phnom Penh at the hands of Kham Phoen, the sector’s “people’s representative” and the secretary’s brother-in-law.

“Later on, I learned that Ham and Kham Phoen came to Phnom Penh, where they exchanged gunfire and died,” the witness said, adding that in the ensuing days, 80 relatives and associates of Kham Phoen—including himself—were arrested and sent to the sector office on Phnom Kraol mountain, known as K-17.

“I was arrested along with others,” he said. “The network of Ta Ham arrested the network of Ta Kham Phoen.”

Under questioning by civil party lawyer Hong Kim Suon, Mr. Tauy said he was imprisoned in the two-story office throughout November. He said the men and women were separated by gender and tied up in two lines on the ground floor of the building, where they were denied access to water for washing and given little food, leading many of them to develop skin diseases.

The witness said he had expected to be executed but was released with his relatives at the end of the month. He said he did not know what became of the other detainees.

“I hated the regime so much; as a result, I didn’t pay much attention to it [after 1979],” he said.

In the morning, the court heard an oral submission concerning nine documents the defense team for Nuon Chea asked to be added to the case file before anthropologist Alex Hinton testifies on March 14.

Victor Koppe, a lawyer for Nuon Chea, said the documents were from the archives of the Stasi, the East German secret police.

He said they were translations of interviews conducted by the Vietnamese intelligence services of former East Zone cadre after they defected to Vietnam, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, National Assembly President Heng Samrin and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.

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