Khmer Rouge Tribunal: cases 001, 002, 003 and 004

Posted by: | Posted on: May 25, 2011

In preparation for the start of trial hearings beginning on 27 June 2011 of Case 002 against the surviving Khmer Rouge senior leaders Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith, KI Media is starting a new series in posting installations of the public document of the Closing Order of Case 002. The Closing Order of the Co-Investigating Judges forms the basic document from which all the parties (Co-Prosecutors, Co-Lead Lawyers for all civil parties, Defense Lawyers) will be making their arguments before the Trial Chamber judges (one Cambodian President, 2 Cambodian Judges, 2 UN judges).  Up until now, the hearings involving these four surviving senior Khmer Rouge leaders have been in the Pre-Trial Chamber over issues of pre-trial detention and jurisdictional issues.  Beginning in June 2011, the Trial Chamber will hear the substantive arguments over the criminal charges (e.g. genocide, crimes against humanity, penal code of 1956).
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of Co-Investigating Judges You Bunleng and Marcel Lemonde, 15 September 2010
  • 33. As of 17 April 1975, the CPK was governed by a Statute which had been initially adopted at the Party’s first Congress, in September 1960.74 In January 1976, a new Statute75 was adopted at the Party’s Fourth Congress76 that outlined the ideology, membership, structure and organization of the Party. Within the Statute a number of state bodies were particularized: the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea,77 the national system of Party Committees,78 the Party Central Committee,79 and “various offices and ministries surrounding the Central Committee”.80 The Party itself was governed by a Central Committee and a Standing Committee.81

  • 34.               The Statute further states that the CPK was to be lead by the system of “collective leadership”82 based on the principle of “democratic centralism”.83 Applied to the Committee system, this meant that individual members could not make decisions by themselves, but only in concert with other members,84 with specific persons holding specific thematic responsibilities. This is echoed in a Standing Committee Meeting dated 9 October 1975: “When a telegram comes in, immediately when it is received the office must hand it to the responsible section immediately, so they can examine and consider it and make proposals to the Standing Committee”.85
  • 35.               Both the Central Committee and the Standing Committee were comprised of “full-rights” and “candidate” (or “reserve” members). Candidate status was a lower ranking than full-rights.86 Being a full-rights member meant having the rights “to consider and discuss and join in decision making” with regard to all matters.87 A candidate member was allowed to participate in meetings, without the right of decision-making.88 At the Central Committee level, not being a full-rights member meant not having “the decision-making power to eliminate people,”89 a power stated by Duch to be officially enjoyed only by certain members of the Central Committee.90 “Assistants” to the Central Committee, although not members as such, enjoyed a status similar to some form of membership, to the extent that they could participate alongside full-rights and candidate members in political training organized at the Party Centre
  • 36.               Other bodies characterized by the Central Committee as totally belonging to the Party were the People’s Representative Assembly (see the section of the Closing Order regarding the Roles and Function of Nuon Chea, said to have been elected on 20 March 1976)92, the State Presidium (see the section of the Closing Order regarding the Roles and Functions Khieu Samphan), and the Organization Committee of the Party Central Committee (headed by Nuon Chea) which was empowered to monitor and inspect Party members and oversee their integration in offices and ministries.93
  • 37. The Central Committee was given responsibility in the Statute of the CPK to “implement the Party political line and Statute throughout the Party”, as well as to “instruct all the Zone and Sector” and to “Govern and arrange cadres and Party members throughout the entire
  • 38.               Members of the Central Committee95 included Pol Pot (referred to in official media as the Secretary of the Central Committee96), Nuon Chea (Deputy Secretary of the Central Committee97), Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan, Koy Thuon (later arrested and executed98), Ta Mok, Ney Saran alias Ya (later arrested and executed99), Soeung and Ke Pork. In addition, Soeu Vasy alias Doeun, Chairman of Political Office 870 (later arrested and executed100) was a member of the Central Committee.101 Chhim Sam Aok alias Pang was described as either a member of the Central Committee or as assistant to the Committee.102 Furthermore, other zone secretaries and at least some sector secretaries were also members of the Central Committee, along with some additional military cadres.103 Some witnesses also state that Ieng Thirith would attend Central Committee meetings.104
  • 39.               Furthermore, there was a “Specialist Military Committee”,105 or “High-Level Military Committee”,106 of the Central Committee originally comprised of Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Son Sen,107 Sao Phim, and Ta Mok.108 Vorn Vet109 and Ke Pork became members of the Military Committee at a later date.110 Duch states that also attached to the Central Committee were assistants with military responsibilities, namely [REDACTED], [REDACTED], Sam Bit and Soeung.111 The Central Committee and Military Committee would sometimes meet jointly to discuss military matters.112 Ultimately, the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea, and all local military units were subordinated to the Military Committee and the Central Committee, the army being described in one edition of Revolutionary Flag as the “pure dictatorial instrument of the Party”. 113
  • 40. In total, though membership evolved over the course of the DK regime, the Central Committee was comprised of over 30 members, whose statutory obligation was to lead the close implementation of CPK policies down through all levels of society and to report back up the hierarchy to the Central Committee, meeting in accordance with the Statute with a frequency of approximately once every six months.114
  • 41. The Standing Committee was a smaller body than the Central Committee comprised of the highest tier of CPK cadre. According to Khieu Samphan, whilst the Central Committee was, in principle, statutorily the highest decision making body, it was within the Standing Committee where effective power was exercised and the day-to-day affairs of the CPK were conducted.115 For example, one aspect of the Standing Committee’s superior position was that it had the authority to order the arrest of Central Committee members.116


  • 42. Khieu Samphan confirms in an interview that POL Pot was the highest authority in the CPK as Secretary of the Standing Committee, stating that “When we talk to Pol Pot it was the same as talking to the party because he was the party secretary”.111 He further states, “All the decisions were circulated to the level of the standing committee so that they could be implemented at the local level”.1118
  • 43. This primacy of the Standing Committee is corroborated by Duch who further confirms that after Pol Pot, Nuon Chea was second in the Standing Committee hierarchy followed by Ta Mok.119 A meeting minutes suggests that in Pol Pot’s absence, Nuon Chea would preside over meetings of the Standing Committee.120 Other members of the Standing Committee included Sao Yann alias Sao Phim (committed suicide 1978),121 Ieng Sary, Vorn Vet (later arrested and executed ), Ruos Nheum (later arrested and executed ) and Son Sen. Of these seven members, five were based permanently in Phnom Penh, namely: Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Vorn Vet and Son Sen (until his relocation in August 1977 to the East Zone to oversee the conflict with Vietnam).125
  • 44. In addition to Pol Pot, Nuon Chea and Ta Mok, Ieng Sary enjoyed full-rights status as a member of the Standing Committee.126 Vorn Vet and Son Sen were likely either full-right or candidate members of the Standing Committee.127
  • 45. Although it is clear from the evidence that Khieu Samphan was not a formal member of the Standing Committee whilst the CPK was in power, there is evidence of Khieu Samphan contributing to or assisting in the work of the Standing Committee, as outlined in the section of the Closing Order regarding Khieu Samphan.128
  • 47.               The Standing Committee would meet frequently; Khieu Samphan stating approximately every seven to ten days.131 In addition, one witness states that whenever there was an important matter requiring discussion, a meeting of the Standing Committee would be called immediately in order to make a decision.132
  • 48.               Existing at the CPK Party Centre level were a series of entities associated with the number “870”; a code which alluded to the highest level of the CPK Centre,133 including sometimes as a reference individually to Pol Pot.134 They are generally described as servicing or supporting the Standing Committee with regard to various political, administrative, communications, security and military tasks; answering in particular to the members of the Standing Committee located in Phnom Penh.135
  • 49.               The official names of the two most important of these entities were the “Political Office of 870”136 and the “Government Office”,137 also designated by the Standing Committeee as “Office S-71” or “Ministry S-71”.138 Minutes of meetings of the Standing Committee also refer to an entity called “Bureau 870” headed by Sim Son alias Yem, which the minutes suggest is endowed with responsibility for the taking of minutes during Standing and Central Committee meetings.139
  • 50.               The first Chairman of Political Office 870 was Soeu Vasy alias Doeun, who remained in this position until his arrest in 1977.140 Khieu Samphan was also assigned to work in this office, but has categorically denied having been, at any time, the chairmam.141 The Government Office (Office S-71) was chaired by Chhim Sam Aok alias Pang142 from 17 April 1975 until 1978, when he was arrested.143 He was replaced by Ken alias Lin,144 who remained in charge through to 6 January 1979. Although one witness states that Pang’s office was controlled by Pol Pot himself, with Pang under his direct authority,145 the evidence shows that Pang’s office also, more generally, “report(ed) to The Centre”.146
870″ or the “Organization’s Office” without clarity about which particular office was being referred to.
  • 52. Political Office 870 was principally tasked with ensuring the flow of communication between the decision-makers in the CPK Centre, and for monitoring the implementation of decisions through a system of regular reporting directly to Political Office 870.148 According to the minutes of the 9 October 1975 meeting of the Standing Committee, referring to the office headed by Doeun, it is stated the “Office of the Standing Committee makes contacts back and forth with each section. The Standing Committee monitors each section’s implementation of the line. The Office has the task of monitoring implementation”.149
  • 53. The functions of Office S-71, as described by Duch, were the “protection of the central office and cadre, welcoming guests, communications, logistics, food, transport”.150 Office S-71 was however also tasked on behalf of the Standing Committee to monitor suspected members of the CPK, the Ministries, the Central Committee and the Standing Committee itself, and to effect arrests of those perceived to be traitors and their transfer to S-21.151
  • 54. Contained within the structure of S-71 was a series of sub-offices, code-named with the prefix “K”, that performed a variety of administrative or logistical functions to support the work of the Centre. These K offices reported directly to Pang.152 Those of particular significance included K-1, K-3, K-7 and K-18.
  • 55. The evidence shows that K-1 was a housing compound containing both the residence and working place of Pol Pot,153 though some witnesses state that K-1 was only the working place of Pol Pot.154 Furthermore, a number of witnesses state that Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan would also reside and/or work at times with Pol Pot at K-1.155
  • 56. There is further evidence that the location known as K-3 was a residence and working place of Nuon Chea and/or Khieu SamphanIeng Sary and/or Son Sen and/or Vorn Vet at various times.156 Nonetheless, a number of witnesses attest to seeing Pol Pot arrive to conduct meetings at either K-1 or K-3 with Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen, Vorn Vet and Khieu Samphan,157 as well as with Ieng Thirith on occasion if the meeting concerned Social Action.158


responsibility.159 K-18 was a telegraph unit through which radio communications were received and then directed to K-1.160
  • 58.               It is not fully clear from the evidence as to precisely which individuals would be considered recipients to messages addressed to “Committee 870”, or to “Office 870”. Some witnesses state that these terms were a direct reference to the Central Committee,161 whilst conversely, other witnesses state it would have been the Standing Committee162 or even Pol Pot individually.163 Nonetheless, a number of witnesses, including Duch, state that their understanding is that “Committee 870” or “Office 870” could include any of Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Vorn Vet, Son Sen and other senior leaders,164 including Khieu Samphan, depending on the content.165
  • 59.               Evidence of other K offices shows that K-6 was a meeting place known as “Borei Keila”,166 K-8 was responsible for growing vegetables,167 K-11 was a medical clinic168 and that K-12 was a unit organizing vehicles and drivers for the Party Centre.169
  • 60.               Though the evidence clearly demonstrates that Khieu Samphan had a role within the Offices of 870, the evidence concerning his exact role is not clear. Duch and two other witnesses state that in or around 1977, Khieu Samphan became the Chairman of the Political Office 870 previously headed by Doeun,170 whilst another witness states only that Khieu Samphan would meet with Pang of Office S-71 to discuss matters and that Pang would receive his orders from Khieu Samphan as well as from other senior leaders.171 Khieu Samphan himself denies taking over as Chairman of Doeun’s office, stating that he was merely responsible within it for a number of national logistical matters, such as distribution amongst the zones of salt, rice, grain, clothes, materials and supplies, as well as for maintaining relations with King Sihanouk.172 The performance of this role is confirmed to some extent by witnesses who confirm that telegrams sent to or received from Office 870 regarding equipment or logistics would bear the name of Khieu Samphan on behalf of Office 870,173 as well as within Minutes of the Standing Committee.174 However, Khieu Samphan made a statement in 1980 admitting involvement in following up and investigating allegations against cadres in the zones, a function previously performed by Doeun.175
  • 61.               Finally Khieu Samphan, Duch, and numerous other witnesses, confirm that the terms “Office 870”, “Organization 870”, “Committee 870” or “Angkar” were used indifferently to designate the leading bodies of the Party Centre.176 Duch states, “Office 870, what I can say is that it was the headquarters of the Party leading bodies”.177
    62.               By a decision of 30 March 1976, the Central Committee decided the composition of the organs of state called to replace, as the official government, the Royal Government of National Union of Kampuchea.178 It was said that the government “must be a proper party organ. It must be our own state”. The ministers were publicly announced on 14 April 1976.179
  • 63.               Though this composition was subject to changes during the course of the DK regime, the government was broadly structured along the following lines:180Pol Pot as Prime Minister with general responsibility of the military and the economy; Ieng Sary as Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs; Son Sen as Deputy Prime Minister for National Defence; Vorn Vet as Deputy Prime Minster for Economics; Nuon Chea as Chairman of the People’s Representative Assemby;181Hu Nim as Minister for Propaganda; Yun Yat as Minister for Education; Touch Phoeun as Minister for Public Works, Transport and Post; Koy Thuon as Minister for Commerce; Cheng An as Minister of Industry;182 Ieng Thirith as Minister for Social Affairs; Thioun Thioeun as Minister for Health; and Khieu Samphan as Chairman of the State Presidium and responsible for commercial tasks relating to accounting and pricing.

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