Killing Fields Bones Not Brought In, Expert Says at KR Tribunal

Skeletons unearthed at the infamous Choeung Ek killing fields on the outskirts of Phnom Penh were those of victims slain there, and were not moved from elsewhere in the country, an archaeologist told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Tuesday.

Under questioning from Anta Guisse, a lawyer for

A monk uses a smartphone to take a photograph of a case containing skulls of Khmer Rouge victims at the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center in Phnom Penh on Sunday. (Pring Samrang/Reuters)

Khieu Samphan, who is on trial for crimes including genocide alongside Khmer Rouge second-in-command Nuon Chea, expert witness Voeun Vuthy was grilled over how he could be certain that the human remains at the site had not been brought from another location.

“If a skeleton was moved from one place to another, do you have any basis on which you can determine from this the difference between the soil from which it was exhumed and the soil where it was subsequently buried?” Ms. Guisse asked the witness, who began his testimony last month.

Mr. Vuthy replied that he did, noting a notorious Khmer Rouge prison in Takeo province. “The skeletons buried at Kraing Ta Chan would provide us with different evidence because we could find out based on the mud,” he said.

After using microscopes to examine the bones, he said he had no doubt that the remains found at Choeung Ek were those of victims who died there.

“There is a clear indication that the skeletons were buried there,” said Mr. Vuthy, who is director of the Culture Ministry’s department of archaeology and prehistory. “The skeletons were not moved from other places and reburied at that location.”

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