The Khmer Rouge tribunal’s trial chamber president interrupted proceedings on Thursday to challenge claims that a man seen in archival footage of senior Khmer Rouge leaders was National Assembly President Heng Samrin.
Victor Koppe, a defense lawyer for the regime’s second-in-command, Nuon Chea, played a video for witness Meas Soeurn on Thursday that appears to show Pol Pot, East Zone secretary Sao Phim and Mr. Samrin—a division commander under the Khmer Rouge—at a rally in the east in 1978.
A still image from a video that appears to show National Assembly President Heng Samrin at a Khmer Rouge rally Mr. Soeurn, the son of deputy East Zone secretary Seng Hong, was shown the same footage on Wednesday and identified only Pol Pot.
On Thursday, he named Sao Phim but said he did not recognize the third man, at which point Mr. Koppe stated that the third man was, in fact, Mr. Samrin.
“Were you able to recognize Heng Samrin in that video?” Mr. Koppe asked, prompting Judge Nil Nonn to interject.
“Defense counsel, are you speculating?” the judge said. “Comparing the appearance to Heng Samrin—it is far-fetched,” he added, going on to accuse Mr. Koppe of “twisting the evidence.”
Mr. Samrin has refused to appear as a tribunal witness.
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