CPP Leaders Favor Jan 7 Start for KR Tribunal

Senior CPP officials said Wed­nes­­day that they would favor the Khmer Rouge tribunal beginning on a Jan 7, the anniversary of the over­throw of the Khmer Rouge re­gime in 1979 by an earlier incarnation of their ruling party.

“Especially January 7 is good,” CPP Honorary President and Na­tional Assembly President Heng Sam­rin said by telephone.

“It is a victory and liberation day,” he said.

Cheam Yeap, a CPP member and the National Assembly’s Fi­nance and Banking Commission chairman, said the Jan 7 date for the beginning of the Khmer Rouge tribunal hearings was “only an idea of the leaders of my party.”

“This is not forced, just an opinion. The court is independent,” he said.

Jan 7 is celebrated each year with fanfare at CPP headquarters, and the party often reminds voters that its current leaders were among those who overthrew the Pol Pot re­gime.

Peter Foster, press officer for the Ex­traordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, wrote by e-mail that tribunal staff were “doing ev­ery­thing we can to ensure that in the month of July the judiciary officials can begin their work.”

“We are not aware of anything that would delay this goal,” he wrote.

Heng Samrin also said that the Su­preme Council of Magistracy se­lected Cambodian judges and prosecutors on ability alone, not be­cause they were loyal to his party.

“To accuse the Cambodian Peo­ple’s Party is wrong. Looking for neu­­tral people, you could not find anyone,” he said.

“Such as NGOs, they are not neutral, they are also biased to this or that side a little…you cannot find an ab­solutely honest and independent person,” Heng Samrin maintained.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said that government officials should not make suggestions re­garding the tribunal process.

“Such directions and comments by politicians can only contribute to de­stroying the independence and hence credibility of the Khmer Rouge tribunal,” he wrote in an e-mail.


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