Anonymous witness 2-TCW-971 continued his testimony today. He gave evidence with regards to work and living conditions in Battambang and Tram Kok as well as the replacement of cadres.
In the beginning of the session, oral submission about two topics were heard. First, regarding an Office of the Co-Prosecutor request to hear two additional witnesses and their opinion regarding key document hearings; second, a request by the Civil Party Lead Co-Lawyers to admit a document. International Co-Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian explained that the two additional witnesses were relevant for the role of the accused. Moreover, they did not deem it necessary to have key document hearings for this segment, as these would be presented in their closing brief. They would respond if other parties wished to present their key documents. The Lead Co-Lawyers for Civil Parties had no objection to hearing additional witnesses. They did not have any key documents to be presented.
The Khieu Samphan Defense Team, in contrast, “objected strongly”. Co-counsel Anta Guissé pointed out that the Prosecution’s request was tardy. The request was submitted after the deadline of 1 September 2016, which the parties had to observe to indicate elements and written statements that they wished to have admitted as well as the witnesses they requested to appear. Of the ten witnesses the Co-Prosecution had requested, eight appeared. Calling a new witness at this stage of the trial would infringe the accused rights of a proper defense.
The Nuon Chea Defense Team announced that they had no key documents to present. As for the witnesses, they said that this new request caught them with “strong surprise” and that “we have completely failed to see why the called witnesses, summonsed witnesses, have anything to say about the role of the accused.” They failed to see the relevance of the witnesses with regards to the role of the accused and therefore objected to the calling of the witnesses.
The International Co-Prosecutor said that the Written Records of Interviews occurred after the list of witnesses was put forward by the Co-Prosecution.
Ms. Guissé said that if the witnesses would be called, this showed the “failure of this trial. It’s a miscarriage of justice.”
Next, the Civil Party Lead Co-Lawyers request to admit Cambodia’s Hidden Scars was discussed. International Civil Party Lead Co-Lawyer Marie Guiraud pointed out that it had been conducted by Stanford University. The Co-Prosecution supported the request. Nuon Chea Defense Counsel highlighted that Stanford was indeed very reputable, but that the probative value of this report was not high. International Civil Party Lead Co-Lawyer Marie Guiraud replied that the Nuon Chea Defense Team could make own submissions regarding the probative value of the report.
At this point, the President adjourned the hearing for a break.
After the break, 2-TCW-971 was heard via audiovisual link. He had commenced his testimony on Friday, December 9 2016, but could not testify more than half an hour due to an interruption of his internet connection. Also today his testimony was slowed down, because the internet was interrupted numerous times.
The floor was handed to the Nuon Chea Defense Team. Mr. Koppe inquired where the storage of rice was: was it in Thma Koul?
Ta Mok ordered him to go to Battambang. People in the mobile unit were mobilized and not detained. He was advised by Ta Chhay that people who were placed in a mobile unit should be allowed to return home.
Improving Work and Living Conditions
Mr. Koppe asked where in Thma Koul the rice storage house was located. He answered that it was located at the market. He did not know how much rice there was in the warehouse. The warehouse stored jars of brown sugar and rice. It was located in Sector 3. Mr. Koppe asked which sector Dounteav was located in.
Mr. Koppe suggested to turn off the video and only listen to the audio. Mr. Koumjian supported this suggestion and no other parties had objections. There was no unhusked rice. Mr. Koppe asked whether there were similar places such as the Thma Koul warehouse in other areas. Mr. Koppe inquired whether he was able to resolve the rice shortage on a more structural issue. Mr. Koppe asked how he and his fellow cadres found out that rice was stored at Thma Koul Warehouse. He replied that some women told him about it, so he distributed the bad quality rice to the nearby villages. They came from the salt field nearby. Mr. Koppe referred to a weekly contemporary report that indicated that rice was hidden at places. He said he had not heard of this. Mr. Koppe asked what he did to lighten the work conditions of the people. The witness replied that the food stored in the warehouse had to be distributed. Ta Chhay instructed the children and mobile units to return to their respective homes.
Mr. Koppe asked what he meant when he said that they had to “eliminate all those acts.” He replied that he stopped people from overworking at the time and give them sufficient food. He made an announcement that everyone should return home. He confirmed that all of them returned. When he arrived in Battambang, he did not visit every place. He saw people working in the rice fields in groups between Thma Koul and Mongkol Borey. They did not have proper houses. Mr. Koppe asked whether he agreed with Ieng Tirith’s observation that “there was something wrong going on in the province.” The witness confirmed this. “I saw people working in the open fields.” Mr. Koppe said that Ieng Tirith had said that the situation were contrary to the guidelines on working. He answered that he saw the activities that she described. “People did not live in proper homes and that would be violating the directive, and that people were working too hard.” Mr. Koppe asked what measures he took to lighten the workload. He replied that it was his understanding that it would be better individually in their villages and not in concentrated groups. He did not work on the reduction of work hours. “I’d like to remind you that I was there for only a brief period of time,” he said.
As for the working hours, he said that they would take a break at 11 am, but that the starting hour varied. Mr. Koppe asked whether the directive set out that the people should work 8 hours a day, with 15 minutes of break every hour and a long lunch break. He replied that there was no proper schedule and that work hours varied.
He was not aware of investigations regarding unlawful killings. He only knew those people who arrived in Battambang with his group. He did not know all the people who came from the Southwest.
Mr. Koppe inquired whether he knew if a reason for the arrest of Ruos Nhim was that he was involved with the killing of Khmer Krom people. He said that he was not aware of this and did not know anything that was related to Ruos Nhim. Mr. Koumjian asked for references. Mr. Koppe said it was not admitted into evidence. Mr. Koppe inquired whether he heard anything about Ruos Nhim’s arrest. The witness denied this.
The floor was handed to the Co-Prosecution. The witness did not know Yeay Rim. Mr. Koumjian inquired whether he heard of the killing of Khmer Krom in Bakan in 1978. Mr. Koppe asked for references.
The witness was afraid at the time. His cousins died during the time when they fought against Lon Nol. He was reassigned Mongkol Borey just before the Vietnamese arrived. He said that this was when the Vietnamese approached, but that they did not enter the territory yet. He said that Ta Mok may have been the secretary of the region at the time. The witness would report directly to Ta Chhay. To his knowledge, Ta Chhay would report to Ta Mok. There was no official announcement who was in charge of the sector.
Mr. Koppe asked whether Ta Thom was the Sector 3 Secretary when the witness arrived. He replied that the post was vacant and that he did not see people in the commerce office. He heard that Ta Thom was the sector secretary, but he never saw him and did not know when he disappeared.
The rice was visible as soon as he entered the warehouse. It was “not hidden” in some places. Some of the rice could not be used, because it was stored for a long time. He did not witness any transportation to any other places.
Mr. Koumjian asked about export of rice. When Mr. Koumjian asked whether he had heard of the explanation that there was a food shortage because of exports, Mr. Koppe said that one explanation did not exclude the other: rice could still have been hidden. Mr. Koumjian read an excerpt, in which it was indicated that there were food shortages and exports of rice. The witness answered that he did not know, as the commerce office did not relate to transport.
After the break, Mr. Koumjian inquired whether he ever attended any training session in Phnom Penh, which the witness denied. He neither met Khieu Samphan nor Nuon Chea. He did not remember when the first group of the Southwest cadres arrived in the Northwest Zone. After he arrived, he went to his unit and asked to the people as for the location he was in. He was told that Ta Thom was in charge of the sector, but he did not know where he went to. He did not all cadres in the sector. He saw some people working. Some women were from Srae Ampil (the salt field). Some of them were from the Southwest and were working at the Commerce Office.
Mr. Koumjian read an excerpt of his statement, in which he had said that people were divided into two or three groups. He replied that some people were allowed to stay in cooperatives, as they were elderly, and some younger people were allowed to children’s units. He could not distinguish who was new and who had been there before. Mr. Koumjian then inquired what his assignment was at Dounteav. He replied that he went there for a maximum of ten days to monitor the cooperatives and units. Mr. Koumjian asked what his task was at Thma Koul. He replied that he was in charge of the distribution of the items in the warehouse. He never knew the chief of agriculture or of the “rice meal”. Mr. Koumjian said that the OCIJ list indicated that Lim Man was the chief of the Agriculture Unit and Ung am En deputy of the rice grind factory. Mr. Koumjian inquired whether he remembered them being arrested. The witness said that he neither see nor know this individual. Nor did he know Rang Lat and Hay Lob. Mr. Koumjian inquired about Chhay Chhorn alias Chhon.
Secretary of Bavel District was arrested in June 1977 and the deputy Kim in January 1978. Mr. Koumjian asked whether he was aware of the arrests of the leadership in Bavel district. He denied this and said that he was at a low rank. “I did not even know who was the former district chief.” He worked according to Ta Chhay’s instructions. Mr. Koumjian inquired whether he knew Vung, which the witness denied.
Next, he inquired whether he heard Ta Mok speak about enemies. He said that he did not know who would be considered an enemy. Mr. Koumjian quoted his statement, in which he had said that “they said” to be careful of internal enemies. This was conveyed to them in meetings chaired by Ta Chhay. The meetings usually focused on agricultural productions.
They spoke about the infiltrated force, the witness said. “That refers to the Lon Nol forces who infiltrated [from] within.” They were told to be vigilant. 
Mr. Koumjian gave references to the killing of Khmer Krom that he had mentioned earlier. With this, Mr. Koumjian concluded his line of questioning.
Assignment in Tram Kok
The floor was handed to Civil Party Lawyer Lor Chunthy. Mr. Chunthy wanted to know what his position was in Takeo province between 1975 and 1977. He replied that he was a teacher for children and teenagers. Asked about living conditions, he said that people ate proper rice only for a few months before then being given only gruel. He did not know how many cadres were sent to Battambang. They were in “the third wave”, he said, and most of them were children and youths. In the cooperatives, people ate normal meals, but they ate differently in the mobile units. “When I asked why, they said that it was because of the problem of transportation.”
Mr. Chunthy asked what the main content was of the meetings with Ta Mok. He replied that he did not attend any meetings chaired by Ta Mok and only those chaired by Ta Chhay. He was instructed to demobilize the units, but this was not consistent with other instructions he received. “It seems like there were factions between the two groups.” They carried out their assignments, because they were afraid. “We were all shivering.” He was afraid of being accused of belonging to traitorous groups. He was transferred later and did not know what happened later.
He knew Ta Thit. He was a monk. “I knew that he disrobed in 1975, and from that time onwards I did not know what position he held or what he did.”
He knew Yeay Chaem. “She came also from Takeo Province, but she had come to the Northwest earlier. To my understanding, when she was in the Northwest Zone, she worked at the Phnom Srok District Committee.”
The people in the mobile units were harvesting rice, while others were working on dikes. With this, Mr. Chunthy concluded his line of questioning.
Next, Judge Lavergne put questions to the witness. He wanted to know whether his cousins who deceased during the Lon Nol regime were Lon Nol soldiers or revolutionary soldiers. He replied that they were part of the revolutionary army. His uncle died after 1975. Judge Lavergne inquired whether his uncle was a teacher. He replied that his uncle was both a teacher under the Sangkum and Lon Nol regime. The witness himself became a teacher later. The disappearance of his uncle concerned him, as “my relatives died with no reason.” Several relatives died. His younger sister died in a mobile unit because of her illness. He heard that people mentioned Kraing Ta Chan, but he did not know its locations and never went there. His female cousin worked in a mobile unit. Her father was a former soldier. “For this reason she was sent to a mobile unit and disappeared.” He never knew about the reasons for his uncle’s disappearance.
Judge Lavergne inquired about a meeting with Ta Mok. He replied that he rarely met Ta Mok. “I did not dare to approach him, unless I was invited to Battambang.” This only took place when Ta Chhay was invited to Battambang.
Judge Lavergne said that he had said that Ta Mok “was used to calling us” to inform them about the situation in Tram Kok District.
At this point, the President adjourned the hearing for a break.
Questions by the Bench
After the break, Judge Lavergne inquired whether he saw Nuon Chea or Khieu Samphan visit Tram Kok in Sector 13. He replied that he never saw any of them since 1970. There was a district office chief who was called Chhoeun. He was also chief of commerce. He confirmed that Chhoeun was the person he had to contact if he had questions. Four people worked in the commerce office: Chhoeun, the witness, and two others. Regarding his work at the commerce, he said that it was where they stored rice for distribution and that it was not responsible for trade. At Tram Kok, the office was not busy and they had time to rest. In Battambang, the office was busier.
The president announced that there was not sufficient time to hear reserve witness 2-TCW-1042 today.
Judge Lavergne wanted to know whether he was aware of a fixed rice portion that had to be given to each person. The witness answered that every person had one can per meal. To his understanding, this was the same for Battambang and Tram Kok. There were different people who were responsible for ensuring that the food ration was distributed. The group chief reported to the witness and his colleagues, who would then report to the chief. At the end of the year, the food supply was less than in the beginning of the year, so they had to reduce the food rations. He experienced this at Tram Kok. Judge Lavergne asked whether he was informed of food shortages in Tram Kok, which the witness confirmed. The focus of the monthly meetings was on agricultural production. The quota for rice production was three tons of rice yield per hectare. This could not be achieved everywhere. Those who could not achieve it would receive smaller food rations. Those who achieved more could enjoy the benefit. They received reports from the cooperative and districts regarding yearly rice production.
Judge Lavergne presented a document to the witness that showed rice production and asked whether he had ever seen this. He replied that he never saw such a report.
Judge Lavergne asked whether rice was exchanged for other products. He denied this. “I do not understand this. The list is about the total number of unhusked rice that they received. He did not know who controlled the rice mill. If it was large, which is what he heard, it would mean that it was under the Ministry of the Zone and not the sector. Judge Lavergne presented a document to the witness which reported on the lack of food in 1977. He asked whether this corresponded to reports as he would receive them in the district office. The witness answered that they would not receive such reports, as the reports were sent to the district committee and not the commerce office. Presented with another report, he said he was not aware of expenditures. He did not recognize the handwriting. Judge Lavergne asked whether he was aware of any cases in Tram Kok when people were arrested because they stole food. The villages would make reports to the commune, who then forwarded it up the line. He did not know where the fabric was taken from that was stored somewhere.
Judge Lavergne concluded his line of questioning and the floor was given to the Khieu Samphan Defense Team. National Co-Counsel Kong Sam Onn announced that they did not have any questions.
The president announced that the request to hear two additional witnesses was rejected due to its untimely manner.
2-TCW-1042: requested to use her laptop. The Co-Prosecutors had no objection. The Nuon Chea Defense Team agreed. The president said that the request was appropriate. The chamber will inform parties on whether the logbook by Heynowski would be admitted. The president adjourned the hearing. It will resume after the Christmas holidays on Wednesday, January 4, 2017 with the key document hearings in relation to the role of the accused.
 E3/178, at 00342708 (EN), 00275587 (KH), 00623304 (FR).
 E3/659, at 00182322 (EN), 00741117 (KH), 00743047 (FR).
 E3/201, at 00292805 (KH), 00612166 (FR), 00419513 (EN). E3/2059, at 00088796 (KH), 00623416 (FR), 00583647 (EN).
 At answer 23.
 Nr. 11641 and 11468.
 E3/1593, at 00639207 (KH), 01150217 (EN).
 E3/10863; E3/5908; E3/9515; E3/9758; E3/9519;
 09 December at 10:02.
 E3/2441, at 00270958-59 (KH), 00369485-86 (EN), 00611761-62 (FR).
 E3/2109, at 00290272-74 (FR), 00275655-56 (EN), 00068014-06 (KH).
Featured image: Witness 2-TCW-971 (ECCC: Flickr)