Today the court was concluded after the first session. First, oral submissions regarding the admission of documents were heard. Next, anonymous witness 2-TCW-971 commenced his testimony but could only take the stance for half an hour as he testified via video link and the internet connection was interrupted. He was sent to Battambang by Ta Mok and said that he was ordered to resolve starvation in the region.
Oral submissions were heard with regard to a Khieu Samphan request to admit a document. Counsel Anta Guissé said that the person of the Written Record of Interview they sought to be admitted had very close ties to 2-TCW-1000 and was in the same regiment as the witness. No other parties had observations.
Next, Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn directed the discussion towards documents provided by Professor Heynowski, who had produced the German documentary Die Angkar (“The Angkar”). He had made available documents to the court that the chamber now needed to admit. The court had not been able to scan a number of loose pages, as they were in bad condition. International Co-Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian said the logbook was very relevant. As for loose papers, he could not respond to whether they should be admitted or not without having seen them. Mr. Koppe reminded the chamber that the Nuon Chea Defense Team had requested Heynowski to be called in 2011.
The Nuon Chea Defense Team said that they were not ready to respond, as they had not seen the documents yet. Counsel Victor Koppe requested to defer the discussion to Monday or Tuesday. He also asked whether he had indicated a willingness to testify. Judge Fenz replied that she did not raise the issue.
Ms. Guissé said it was difficult to assess the probative value of the documents, as only Suos Thy and Duch could verify them. These two should also be called, in addition to Professor Heynowski. Mr. Koppe said that the OCIJ staff member who was going to testify next week had drawn up the list and should be included in this issue.
Mr. Koumjian said that the Co-Prosecution did not deem it necessary to recall Duch and Suos Thy.
Next, the testimony of 2-TCW-971 was heard via video link. As he was part of another case, he remained anonymous. The floor was handed to the Nuon Chea Defense Team. Mr. Koppe inquired what he meant when he said that he was “coerced to become a soldier of Lon Nol.” He replied that there was no coercion and only propaganda when Sihanouk was toppled. Mr. Koppe wanted to know whether he was the Chairman of the Commerce Office in Ang Ta Saom in the beginning of 1977. He replied that it was located at Ang Roka. He confirmed that he worked at the commerce office. There was no rice at the time – just salt and clothes. Mr. Koppe inquired who Ta Ty Chhay was. He answered that he was the deputy of the district committee. Ta Kyt was the one who assigned him to the office. He saw Pech Chhim’s face “after the coup,” the witness said.
He arrived in Battambang on 1 January 1978. Ta Chhay was not aware of the reason. Ta Mok informed them. They were told to go to Battambang to resolve the issue, because the situation in the Northwest was “not good.” He did not know what this meant before he left. He said that people did not have enough rice to eat and that they had to look at the situation themselves. “There was no detention of anyone” when he arrived. The food supply was normal, too. In some areas they were asked why they had come. “In fact, no one was detained and I did not see any detention place.” He confirmed that he saw storage facilities, in which rice and sugar was abandoned. It was his understanding that the quality of rice would be bad if it was stored for a long time. “The quality became bad.” Sugar was stored in big jars and the quality remained good. He did not understand why this was not given to the people. He thought that the rice had been stored there for a long time. In some areas, the people did not have sufficient food to eat. “Maybe the rice was bad and that’s why it was not fed to the people.”
Mr. Koppe referred to another witness’s testimony, who had said that the Northwest Zone was ‘full of rice” and that there was no reason why the people should be fed gruel and not rice. The witness answered that he saw that as well and did not understand the situation. As for the food that was stored, he called the people in the cooperative to eat the rice, even if some of it was bad. This was at Thma Koul. “They were happy that I did it.”
Mr. Koppe asked whether he also gave food to people who apparently had been tempered or re-educated. He replied that people were working in small units. He allowed them to return to their respective villages after they had been given food.
After the first morning break, the president announced that 2-TCW-971 could not be heard today anymore, as there had been an electricity cut in the region that affected the internet connection. The court therefore adjourned early at 11 am. It will resume on Monday, December 12, 2016, at 9 am with the testimony of 2-TCW-1070.
 E3/9593, at answer 1.
Featured image: Monks watching a hearing in November 2016 (ECCC: Flickr).