19 August, 2009

S-21 victims 'martyrs': civil party

THE daughter of former prime minister Nhiek Tioulong told the Khmer Rouge tribunal Tuesday that the death of her sister and brother-in-law devastated her father, who she said was "completely caught off guard" by the fact that he couldn't save his daughter.

Antonya Tioulong, 56, one of four civil parties to testify Tuesday, said her sister Raingsi remained in Phnom Penh even after Lon Nol decreed in 1970 that the family should leave because of her father's close ties to Norodom Sihanouk.

Raingsi and her husband, Lim Kimari, remained in touch with the family in France until the Khmer Rouge takeover. In a letter dated March 28, 1975, Raingsi wrote to her father asking whether she should flee. That was the last letter her father received.

The family heard nothing until after the fall of the regime, when a cousin who survived reported having met a man who manufactured shackles at Tuol Sleng. The man said he had seen Raingsi's confession and photograph there.

"You know, Mr President, what is haunting us?" Antonya said to Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn. "It is that during this entire time that they were still alive, they must've been asking us why they were not being helped by their family."

Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, said he did not know whether Raingsi, who Antonya said was detained in late 1975 and executed in the spring of 1976, had been singled out for particularly brutal torture, noting that her confession had already been completed by the time he became chairman.

Antonya, the sister-in-law of opposition leader Sam Rainsy, ruled out forgiving the accused.

"It is not enough to say 'I'm sorry' to gain absolution. A sentence must be handed down," she said. "His victims were martyrs and suffered as such, and so never, never will I forgive him."


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