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Tribunal Witness Describes Clearing Phnom Penh of ‘Enemies’

Cambodian military officials line up in front the top leaders of Khmer Rouge portraits, from right, former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, and former Deputy Secretary Nuon Chea, during the trial of

Khmer Rouge cadre were ordered to “clear” the capital of anyone related to the US-backed Lon Nol regime of the 1970s, a witness told the tribunal Wednesday.

Pean Khean, 62, a former minister of commerce for the Khmer Rouge, said soldiers and civil servants of the Lon Nol government were considered “enemies.”

He is testifying in the UN-backed trial of Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary, three Khmer Rouge leaders accused of atrocity crimes, including genocide, for acts committed by the regime under their leadership.

“Those who were considered enemies would be destroyed when they were arrested,” he said. “They were all to be cleared, and after them, the CIA from Phnom Penh had to be cleared too.”

Pean Khean said he had joined the movement in 1966, at the age of 16, “to liberate” Cambodia.

In final testimony Wednesay, Pol Pot’s nephew, Saloth Ban, said the Khmer Rouge had wanted to “liberate the country from American imperialism.”