ECCC Reparations

This blog is designed to serve as a repository of analyses, news reports and press releases related to the issue of RERAPATIONS within the framework of the Extraordinary Chambers in Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a.k.a. the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Not Sure About the Rest But There Appears to Be a Consensus that Khieu Samphan Did Like That Soup

The prosecution has kept pressing on to establish that (a) the execution policy was known to Khieu Samphan and Noun Chea; (b) that Khieu Samphan and Noun Chea had every reason to know about executions of evacuees from the cities, particularly when they were conducted in the vicinity of their Udong office; and (c) that Lon Nol military were executed at Toul Po Chrey.

On (a), the prosecution produced a witness who was a seamstress at a sewing unit in Phnom Penh and who attended Khieu and Noun’s political trainings. She testified to one of them (there is no agreement as to which one) referred to the purge of the North Zone Secretary Koy Thoun. The witness kept referring to Koy Thoun as “Koy Khoun” which clearly meant that she was not familiar with the man’s name but she somehow miraculously remembered a fleeting mention of him as a traitor at one of the trainings that had taken place 36 years ago. The human mind is a very curious thing but in this case the answer to this curiosity, perhaps, should be sought in the Co-Investigating Judges’ interview methodology. Regardless of how the miracle of remembering a name the witness cannot even pronounce correctly after the passage of 36 years transpired, the witness’ testimony is hardly of any probative value as she had given contradictory statements as to which one of the two accused mentioned Koy Thoun and the purge of him. Although of no probative value to the criminal process, it was of some interest to those of us who were not aware that there had been a sizable sewing unit outside the Orussey Market. And of course, to those of us who are planning on having Khieu Samphan over for dinner – we will know where to get the recipe for his favorite soup.

On (b), the prosecution came up with a clear scheme of attempting to prove executions of evacuees that took place in the vicinity of Khieu and Noun’s Oudong office and that were ordered by a person whom the prosecution believes to be Noun’s relative. Not bad. The prosecution found perhaps the lowest-ranking member of the village militia who testified to escorting some people to a place where he handed them over a group of Khmer Rouge military who tied up some of them. The witness’ statement to the Co-Investigating Judges was lavished with the gruesome detail of how executions were conducted. Upon the examination in court he did not appear to have been able to testify to anything other than (i) taking some evacuees to some place; (ii) handing them over to the Khmer Rouge military; (iii) seeing the military tie up some of them; and (iv) hearing the one-two-three count (as opposed to blindfolds, one executioner per victim, pre-dug grave pits, etc). All this was circumstantial evidence and it only depended on the quality of the defense’s refutation. The defense came up with very weak material. It is very difficult to buy the defense’s line of defense which, essentially, would have us believe that the persons the witness escorted were simply being transferred to another village to avoid overcrowding. Why so pompously then? Why the military? Why the ligaments? To prevent those people from clapping from the excitement of being relocated to a new village? And the defense’s suggestion that the count was to help the people be in sync while they marched to another village is completely idiotic. Cambodians do not do anything weird (meaning what the English-speakers do not do) with the one-two-three count. Anyone familiar with the culture knows that it is never used for things like let’s go to a restaurant, one-two-three! Not degrading these proceedings to the level of idiotic would be a good rule of thumb for the defense – if they have nothing to counter the prosecution’s assertion with, it is best to leave it unchallenged than challenge it with something as moronic as the military counting one-two-three to keep the people in lockstep with each other while moving them to another village. Regardless of these regrettable setbacks for the defense, it did establish one uncomplicated thing – the witness is not an eye-witness to the executions (provided there were executions). The prosecution is in a tight spot regarding this as witnesses do have a right against self-incrimination which they will use the second the prosecution places them somewhere near what might have been an execution site. The defense clamors that eye-witnesses are the only ones who can attest to the existence of an execution. So, what the prosecution is looking for here is a witness with plausible deniability to being a hands-on killer but who had some sort of business being present at the execution (some sort of a water boy, for lack of a better idea) and who is willing to testify to the execution having been perpetrated by others.      

On (c), the prosecution produced a witness who claimed to have seen 2,000 Lon Nol military to be taken to be executed at Toul Po Chrey. The witness was Lon Nol military himself and claimed that the only reason he was still alive was because he was not fast enough to get a seat on the one of the trucks that took his colleagues out for execution. There are a couple of curious things about this witness’ testimony. One, he went to a meeting to which the Khmer Rouge invited the Lon Nol military voluntarily and out of mere curiosity. Two, he testified that no one ordered him or any of his former colleagues on to the trucks and that the Khmer Rouge made absolutely no effort to round up those who did not get a seat on the trucks and try to get them to the putative execution site later and execute them elsewhere. Three, he testified to two of his friends escaping the executions and then being captured within days while he was left completely alone by the Khmer Rouge. Four, the witness’ reply of “he was re-educated at Toul Po Chrey” to the defense’s question as to whether his friend that he was there with was still alive was odd. But, the prosecution did establish that there were trucks taking members of the Lon Nol military somewhere and likely in the direction of Toul Po Chrey. Then there is the rumor of what might have happened. It is not bad circumstantial evidence but the prosecution needs to produce truckloads of it as circumstantial evidence, as it is the case in most criminal jurisdictions, has to be overwhelming to amount to a conviction on its own.        


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home