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KRT witness pressed on Jarai killings

Members of the audience follow the trial proceedings on Monday at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. ECCC
Members of the audience follow the trial proceedings on Monday at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. ECCC

KRT witness pressed on Jarai killings

A former interrogator at the Au Kanseng security centre underwent cross-examination from the defence teams yesterday, presenting a softer view of the prison and evading potentially incriminating questions in his second day at the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Testifying anonymously by video link, Witness 2-TCW-900 had previously recounted taking notes during interrogations at the Ratanakkiri province prison, where he estimated hundreds died between 1977 and 1979, including roughly 100 ethnic Jarai prisoners.

“Guards and prisoners had the same food rations”, and “guards never protested for lack of food”, the witness said, responding to questions from Nuon Chea defender Victor Koppe about conditions at the security centre.

The testimony contradicted previous evidence of prisoners having “skeletal” appearances from starvation.

Koppe revisited the question of the 100 ethnic Jarai supposedly killed at Au Kanseng, asking “were you yourself involved in the actual killing of those Jarai people?”

“I never personally committed any act of killing any human being,” the witness replied, after consulting with his duty counsel.

Koppe then asked if the witness was an eyewitness to the killings, to which the witness said he was not.

“Did you order anyone to kill those Jarai?” Koppe pressed.

Prosecutor Vincent DeWilde ultimately objected, saying the question was repetitive given that the witness had already testified to attending a meeting in which instructions were given to deal with the Jarai, though Koppe rebutted that the matter of implementation remained unknown.

Trial chamber president Nil Nonn overruled the objection but reminded the witness of his right to not incriminate himself.

After several tense minutes, the witness declined to answer the question.

Koppe then read from the testimony of the centre’s chief, Chhaom Se, who implicated the military units that had escorted the Jarai to Au Kanseng in the killings.

“That task was performed by Ting, the deputy of Se,” the witness said, contradicting Se’s testimony.

Pressed further by Koppe on the responsibility for the killings, the witness said, “We performed our tasks based on our assigned duties.”

“I did not implicate anyone and I did not shift my responsibility to anyone,” he added.

Today, expert witness Ysa Osman will resume testimony and oral submissions will be heard over the Chea defence’s request to admit an additional witness to testify on the Phnom Kraol security centre.

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