The Khmer Rouge tribunal on Thursday finished hearing testimony from civil party Prak Doeun, 73, who had told the court on Wednesday how a group of ethnically Vietnamese women and children, including his own wife and son, had been brutally killed by the regime.
Under questioning from lawyers for defendants Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan—who are facing charges of genocide against ethnic Vietnamese between 1975 and 1979—Mr. Doeun stuck to his version of events, deflecting attempts to portray him as being more than a simple fisherman under the Khmer Rouge.
Asked why he had been entrusted as the chief of his village’s fishing group in Kompong Chhnang province’s Boribor district, he maintained that he was a talented leader and could motivate villagers to work hard.
“I was good at speaking, particularly at mobilizing people at meetings,” he said.
It was this skill that led to him being asked to speak at a forced marriage ceremony for 25 couples, he said, rather than any affiliation with the Khmer Rouge.
“I was simply an ordinary person,” Mr. Doeun said.
In response to questions from Nuon Chea’s lawyer Victor Koppe about whether he might have actually killed his wife himself under orders, Mr. Doeun insisted that this was not the case.
“No one was forced to kill their Vietnamese husband or wife. It was the Khmer Rouge clique who killed them,” he said.
In the afternoon, the court swore in a new witness, Sao Sak, 62, from Prey Veng province. She told the court how, over the course of the Khmer Rouge regime, Vietnamese people were gradually “sorted out” of the population, including her own half-Vietnamese mother, who was summoned to a meeting with Khmer Rouge cadres from which she never returned.
“Anyone who was related to Vietnamese origin would be taken away and killed,” she said.
The questioning of Ms. Sak is scheduled to continue on Monday.
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