Witness contradicts previous statements

By: Shaun Turton

Democratic Kampuchea leaders made “successive recommendations” to purge soldiers of the former Lon Nol regime, the Khmer Rouge tribunal heard yesterday, as a former commune chief and assistant Tram Kak district secretary sought to downplay her role in “cleaning up” enemies.

Testifying via video link from Battambang, former head of Cheang Tong commune Khoem Boeun, alias Yeay Boeun, was questioned about the Khmer Rouge’s targeting of former regime members in 1975 and then again in early 1977.

The 72-year-old – who was inducted into the “revolution” in 1971 by the daughter of Southwest Zone leader Ta Mok, and is a distant relative of Kraing Ta Chan prison chief Ta An and Case 004 suspect Im Chaem – repeatedly denied involvement in arrests and killings.

“I received instruction from the upper echelon. However, I did not arrest people and send them away,” Boeun, whose husband was chief of the adjacent Popel commune during the regime, said.

However, her answers often contradicted her own statements given to the Office of Co-Investigating Judges (OCIJ) in May last year, when she admitted ordering the arrests of former regime teachers, officials and soldiers at the behest of the “upper echelon” following the evacuation of Phnom Penh in 1975.

After being sent away, “some were able to return, some not”, her previous statement, read by international deputy co-prosecutor Vincent De Wilde, said.

Khmer Rouge-era letters also contradicted her denials.

In early 1977, both Boeun and her husband wrote to their superiors identifying officers of the former regime in their communes.

According to Boeun’s letter dated April 30, 1977, Angkar – the name used for the Khmer Rouge’s leadership – had made “successive recommendations . . . regarding vigilance vis-a-vis the enemy and the cleaning up of enemy soldiers who were ranked officers”.

In October 1978, Boeun – who also testified that forced marriages occurred in her commune – said she was appointed as assistant Tram Kak district secretary to Neang Ouch, alias Ta San, who has denied this role in his tribunal testimony.

Separately, the UN yesterday announced a $12.1 million credit line for the tribunal to help it extend staff contracts.