CPP President Says KR Trial An Open Issue

Leading CPP members on Monday tried to water down reports that they would consider softening their stance on the Khmer Rouge trial at the party’s bi-annual convention of the central committee.

But one ranking member on Monday said the matter is still open for discussion.

“I expect both positive and negative reactions to this issue will be raised,’’ said Heng Sam­rin, honorary president of the CPP and first deputy president of the National Assembly.

He said the issue of how to try Khmer Rouge leaders would be discussed by committee members this afternoon. According to committee practice, members submit comments that are read aloud to party leaders, one committee member said Monday.

Government and CPP spokes­man Khieu Kanharith, however, tried to dispel any idea that changes would be made to the trial draft law already passed by the Council of Ministers and sent to the National Assembly.

“The draft is to be handled by the Assembly. It is out of the government’s hands now,” Khieu Kanharith said. “We have nothing to discuss again….Those are the rules.”

Instead, Khieu Kanharith said the convention focused on how to ensure national stability and “social order,” how to grow the economy and how to establish party committees in the prov­inces for the upcoming commune elections and the national elections in 2003.

He would not comment on possible movements or new appointments within the party.

Khieu Kanharith said Hun Sen did mention the Khmer Rouge trial in his opening report but said “his stance remains the same.” A number of high-ranking CPP officials once were aligned with the Khmer Rouge before defecting to Vietnam—a fact remembered by legal and human rights groups who argue a trial not backed by the UN could be politically biased.

(Additional reporting by Lor Chandara)



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