Few Concerns Over Talk of KR Trial Move

The surprise announcement of the new RCAF headquarters as the likely site of the impending Khmer Rouge tribunal caused little disturbance among trial ob­servers Sunday, though some cautioned that vigilance would be necessary to ensure separation be­tween the military and the legal proceedings.

Inaugurated Nov 8, yet only partially completed, the $10 million headquarters located in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district is one of the few structures in Cambodia with ample space and security for the trial, Defense Minister Tea Banh said Sunday.

He brushed off concerns that the choice of venue could intimidate participants whose rebel movement fought RCAF only six and one half years ago.“During the prosecution, those former Khmer Rouge leaders will be thinking only about prosecution. They will not fear RCAF,” he said.

An October report from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the tribunal’s progress indicated that Phnom Penh’s Chaktomuk Theater and the National Cultural Center would be used as the trial’s courtroom and offices. The gov­ern­ment proposed the change of venue last week during the UN task force’s visit, saying the RCAF command was a logistical im­provement over the alternatives.

On Sunday, relatives of some of those likely to go on trial said they were indifferent to the court’s site.

“The location is not important as long as the prosecution is just,” said Khieu Rathana, daughter of ex-Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan.

Mei Makk, deputy governor of Pailin municipality and a former Khmer Rouge soldier, concurred.

“If the government has already agreed, we have no choice but to comply,” he said.

Sean Visoth, secretary of the government task force on the tribunal, declined comment Sunday.

Youk Chhang, director of the Docu­mentation Center of Cam­bo­dia, said he would not object to the venue, unless RCAF involved itself in the proceedings beyond providing security.

“This is a country where citizens are afraid of men in uniform,” he said.


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