Christopher LAPEL

Pastor Christopher Lapel was called as a witness to testify on the character of the Accused and more specifically, on the significance and sincerity of the Accused’s religious faith.

Pastor Lapel first met the Accused under the name of Hang Pin in December 1995 at Chamkar Samraong, Battambang, when the Accused joined his church. The Accused was baptised on 6 January 1996 and after a two-week course, returned to his home area to serve as a lay pastor of a community comprising fourteen families. According to Pastor Lapel, the Accused converted of his own free will. He told the Trial Chamber that his baptism had changed the Accused from a sad man living without peace, joy, or purpose in life to "a man with a serving heart", who cared about "shar[ing] the word of God".

Pastor Lapel only learnt of the Accused's past in April 1999 when he was phoned by an AP journalist from Bangkok. The Accused had never shared his past with him. He had only told Pastor Lapel that he had sinned to such an extent that he could not think he could be forgiven. Pastor Lapel was surprised to learn that the Accused had been the Chairman of S-21, but at the same time he was "rejoiced [Ö] to see a man that God [Ö] change[d] from a killer to a believer". Pastor Lapel himself lost close friends at S-21, but told the Chamber that as a "true believer" he had forgiven the Accused and was able to find peace and joy through this act of forgiveness: "I love [him], I hate what [he] has done. [Ö] I hate sin, not the sinners".


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