Accessibility links

Khmer Rouge 'Warlords' Killed, Abused Power, Khieu Samphan Says

[Editor's note: Head of state and spokesman for the Khmer Rouge when it rose to power, Khieu Samphan is widely believed under investigation by the special tribunal courts for trial on atrocity crimes. On Oct. 11, he gave VOA Khmer his longest interview since the indictments of two of his comrades, chief ideologue Nuon Chea and torture center director Duch. This is the final part of a five-part series.]

The Khmer Rouge suffered from "warlords" in different zones, Khieu Samphan said, which may have led to the killing fields. "They were abusing power and did their own arrests and killings. That's why there was confusion, revenge, jealousy, and attempts [by them] to uproot one another."

"They did not follow any rules," he said. "They arrested people they did not like."

Khieu Samphan denied any knowledge about the decision to evacuate everyone from cities and towns on April 17, 1975.

"I did not know when the decision about the evacuation was made," he told VOA Khmer. "It was done very secretly."

The former nominal head of the regime, who could face indictment by the genocide tribunal said he knew nothing of widespread starvation and mass killing under the regime.

"Like I said before, I only stayed in one place, that is at the headquarters of the Democratic Kampuchea" in Phnom Penh, he said. "Don't just believe that the Khmer Rouge starved people. You have to do more research to find the truth."

Khieu Samphan admitted that Pol Pot had agreed "to arrest some people" after consulting with the Standing Committee of the communist regime, "but he did not go to arrest people in the fields."