Former Thai PM Does Not Recall Request by Hun Sen

Former Thai prime minister Chuan Leekpai said he has no recollection of a request reportedly made in 1998 by Prime Minister Hun Sen that the Thai government organize a “disappearance” of senior Khmer Rouge leaders, Bangkok’s two major newspapers reported Monday.

Chuan Leekpai said he “re­mem­bered only requests by Cam­bodian authorities to extradite criminals to stand trial,” the Bangkok Post reported.

According to documents al­legedly from a meeting be­tween Hun Sen and his Thai coun­terpart that took place shortly before the July 1998 elections, Hun Sen said he was concerned that the Khmer Rouge issue would divert attention away from the national ballot, and it might be better to have former Khmer Rouge military commander Ta Mok, and Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, out of the way.

Ta Mok is currently in jail—one of only two former Khmer Rouge leaders to be detained and awaiting some sort of Khmer Rouge trial along with Duch, the former director of the Tuol Sleng prison.

It’s unclear which, if any, of the several senior Khmer Rouge officials living freely in Cambodia could be called to court if a tribunal went forward.

After years of often stalled negotiations, a Khmer Rouge tribunal appeared to be close to becoming a reality earlier this year. But the UN, which was to be the Cam­bodian government’s partner in the trial, abruptly pulled out of talks in February, saying officials here didn’t have the will to hold a trial up to international standards.

Though both sides have made some conciliatory gestures—diplomatic officials have been quietly pushing the UN to resume negotiations—it now seems un­likely the UN will return to trial talks without a mandate either from its security council or general assembly.

Foreign Minister Hor Nam­hong traveled last week to the US but said he would only talk about the Khmer Rouge issue with senior UN officials if it was raised by them first.

 

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