Tuesday, 25 August 2009

More civil parties refuse to forgive S-21 commandant

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Cheang Sokha

Former soldier accuses Duch of threatening her with a gun.

AFEMALE Khmer Rouge soldier described for Cambodia's war crimes court on Monday two events taking place shortly after the fall of the communist regime that she said stopped her from forgiving former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, despite his many apologies.

Civil party Chum Noeu, 60, whose husband was sent to Tuol Sleng in 1977 and killed, first told of an encounter with Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, while she and other comrades were fleeing Phnom Penh after the Vietnamese arrived in January 1979.

She said Duch threatened her with a handgun after he was told that she had tried to leave a group of fleeing soldiers.

"I was very polite. I called him 'Brother'. I was not scared. I smiled at him. Before he asked me, he already pulled out his gun ... and he pointed the gun at me," she said, adding that she saw that the weapon's safety was not on at the time.

She went on to describe a reunion with her aunt in Prey Veng province, which also took place not long after the Khmer Rouge defeat.

Because of Chum Noeu's Khmer Rouge affiliation, her aunt blamed her for her uncle's death, she said.

"My aunt was so furious when I met her. She said because of me her husband died. This was a great pain inflicted upon me," she said.

"I knelt down before my aunt to ask for forgiveness for the loss of her husband, but she would not accept it. So even one word of apology from the accused - I cannot accept it."

Asked to respond to Chum Noeu's testimony, Duch flatly denied personally threatening her with a firearm.

"I never pointed a gun at anybody," Duch said.

How could I be compensated for the suffering I have endured?

"I had several subordinates to make arrests and they were able to reprimand people."

'Nothing could compensate'
Also Monday, the court heard from civil party Chhin Navy, 70, who cried as she recalled the death of her husband, a former public works and civil aviation employee who was killed in May 1976 after confessing at Tuol Sleng to being a CIA agent.

"I was shocked that a person with such dignity, a person who was treated with respect like my husband could be arrested and detained and badly treated," Chhin Navy said.

"How could I be compensated for the suffering I have endured?

"Nothing could compensate for such acts committed by that regime against my husband," she said.

Dozens of witnesses and civil parties, including foreigners, have testified so far at Duch's trial - the first of five former Khmer Rouge leaders detained by the UN-backed court.

This week, judges are expected to hear from a mental health expert on the effects of the regime on survivors.


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