Witness Tells Tribunal of Mass Arrest of Chams

A day after the Khmer Rouge tribunal heard testimony describing the arrest and killing of hundreds of Cham people in Kompong Cham province in 1977, a witness told the court Tuesday that he saw the same group of villagers being led away for execution.

Samrit Muy, 68, who claimed to have worked as both a commune militiaman and laborer under the Khmer Rouge, said he witnessed Cham villagers being taken away while he was eating at a communal dining hall near Wat Au Trakuon in Kang Meas district’s Peam Chikang commune.

Samrit Muy testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Tuesday. (ECCC )
Samrit Muy testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Tuesday. (ECCC )

“All the Cham people [in Sach Sau village] were arrested except one family,” Mr. Muy said during questioning by Deputy Co-Prosecutor Srea Rattanak.

“I saw [that] all the Cham people, including young children, were being walked.”

“They were arrested and placed in Au Trakuon pagoda,” Mr. Muy said, explaining to the Trial Chamber that the pagoda had been converted into a security center by Southwest Zone personnel following their arrival and purge of North Zone cadre in late 1976 or early 1977.

“Those brought into that pagoda would never return,” he said, adding that loud music would play from the pagoda whenever executions were taking place inside.

“I would hear the screaming for help during the time the loud music was being played,” Mr. Muy said, noting that his house was just 200 meters away. “The loud music was being played on that night after they arrested [the Cham].”

Asked repeatedly by defense counsels for both Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea if he could identify those who had arrested the Cham, Mr. Muy said he could not, as he had only seen the march from a distance.

On Monday, witness Sen Srun testified at the tribunal that he had helped guard some of the 400 to 500 Cham people arrested by district security forces that day, telling the court that he was told by a security guard at the pagoda that all of them were killed.

Mr. Srun also claimed that Mr. Muy had occupied a leadership position within the commune militia and arrested him in 1975—a charge Mr. Muy denied Tuesday.

Pressed by Anta Guisse, defense counsel for Khieu Samphan, Mr. Muy said he served only as a regular militia member until 1977, and not as a leader of the unit until the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, as asserted by Mr. Srun.

“As a militiaman at that time, I was simply a subordinate—I had no authority to arrest him,” Mr. Muy said, claiming that he provided food to Mr. Srun during his incarceration.

“I brought rice to him to eat. That is why he survived the regime and is living now.”

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