Khieu Samphan (pictured), the head of state of the Khmer Rouge regime, has a reputation as an honest politician. In the 1960s he was beaten and strip-searched on the way out of parliament after he made a speech criticizing the authority. In 1967, after the Samlaut Uprising, he was accused of inciting the Samlaut people to revolt against the government. The authority issued an arrest warrant. Fearing for his life he disappeared mysteriously- feared dead by many who knew him. A few months later, a long with Hu Nim and Hou Youn, he re-emerged in the jungle of Cambodia as one of the top Khmer Rouge leaders. In 1976, after Sihanouk resigned as the head of state of the Khmer Rouge regime, Khieu Samphan was chosen as Sihanouk’s replacement. Now he is one of many possible candidates of suspects in the crime against humanity and genocide committed during the KR regime, a charge he always denied. In his first interview with Mr. Sok Serei of Radio Free Asia Khmer Service, after many months of silence, he claimed that he has done nothing wrong and that he has nothing to worry about a possible warrant for his arrest by the Khmer Rouge Court. Do you, the readers, believe that he is innocent? Below is what he had said in the interview:
Courtesy of Radio Free Asia
Translated by Khmerization
Sok Serei: I heard that you have hired a lawyer. What is his name?
Khieu Samphan: His name is Say Bory.
Serei: You only hired a Khmer lawyer or do you plan to hire other lawyers too?
Samphan: I should respect the court’s requirements that we should have both the Khmer and foreign lawyers. I have already chosen a foreign lawyer but I haven’t had a Khmer lawyer just yet.
Serei: Who is your foreign lawyer?
Samphan: A Frenchman named Jaques Verges.
Serei: When did you hired Mr. Say Bory?
Samphan: About four days ago. In fact I have talked to him quite sometime back since I first published my book because I heard that the international court will be established and my name was mentioned as a possible suspect so I contacted Mr. Say Bory but at that time he could not be my lawyer as he was a member of the Constitutional Council.
Serei: Why did you choose Mr. Say Bory?
Samphan: I saw that Mr. Say Bory did not belong to any political party. He is a law professor. If he becomes my lawyer he doesn’t seem to think much about the money. I saw that he is a respected person who only think about the law. In fact he told me that I was and still is an honest and incorruptible person who never took bribes from anyone. He doesn’t know about anything else but based on my honesty and clean image he formed the view that maybe I have done nothing wrong.
Serei: The court has not issued an arrest warrant yet but why did you plan ahead?
Samphan: It is normal because my name was mentioned as a possible suspect so I can’t be complacent because when the time comes I could be without a lawyer. I do not want a lawyer chosen for me by the court. I want to choose my own lawyer.
Serei: During the Khmer Rouge regime what was your official title role?
Samphan: My official title role, in simple term, would be the head of state. But in the Khmer Rouge official terminology I was the President of the Presidium. I wish to tell you that in the official document it was stated very clearly who has the power to arrest, who has the right to arrest whom. But the president of the presidium did not have any power to arrest anyone. Secondly, I wish to tell you that I was in the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cambodia only because I was a vice-president of the GRUNK goverment (the government of the resistance forces) seconded to His Majesty (Sihanouk). They (the KR) wanted to give me an honour. They only put me as a reserve member of the Central Committee from 1971 to 1976 and after that they let me be a full member and in the Central Committee the ones who have real power are those who had the responsibility on the ground. They were the ones who carried out the policies of the Central Committee. Others who had real power are those who controlled large units of the army. As for me, who was also a Central Comittee member but only acted as a liaison with His Majesty (Sihanouk) and both His Majesty and me had no power at all.
Serei: Nuon Chea has already been arrested. Are you worried or do you have any plan to run away?
Samphan: No. I have no plan to run away. First, I have done nothing wrong- not even accepting a small bribe, let a lone killing someone. In fact, I am not worried about it (the possible arrest) at all.
Serei: Do you live in Phnom Penh or in Pailin at the moment?
Samphan: I live in Pailin.
Serie: Is your health still good?
Samphan: My health is normal. I don’t have any serious illness but I have diabetes for 3-4 years already but it is not serious. My doctor has advised me to abstain from eating chicken or drinking alcohol. But I never drink any alcohol, only once in a while when my friends invited me to their party.//