Peter Leuprecht, the new UN human rights envoy to Cambodia, said Thursday he has interviewed Ta Mok and Duch, the only Khmer Rouge officials being held in prison for war crimes, and that neither complained of their treatment.
“They both say they are all right,” Leuprecht said after an afternoon meeting with National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
Asked if the men seemed happy, Leuprecht paused and then said he doesn’t think that is something he can judge.
“I have visited S-21,” the former Tuol Sleng High School that Duch ran as a torture center and prison for the Khmer Rouge, Leuprecht said. “I spoke to him about it, and about how he felt about it.”
He said he would not describe Duch’s response as “happy.”
Khmer Rouge General Ta Mok was the last of the regime’s leaders to be arrested in 1999. He and Duch are the only two Khmer Rouge officials facing genocide charges, and have been held in the military prison since last year.
Leuprecht, who visited the prison Wednesday, said the men appear healthy, and that conditions are “much better” than those in Prey Sa, the civilian prison where he visited suspects being held in last Friday’s alleged uprising.
Leuprecht said that while it is too early to judge whether his first visit to Cambodia has been completely successful, it is a “positive” sign that he has met with the nation’s top leaders and visited military and civilian prisoners.
Leuprecht said he also met with Prime Minister Hun Sen Wednesday, and received “many assurances” that progress is being made on the Khmer Rouge tribunal draft law.
He said government officials tell him there is a good chance the law will be passed “before the end of this session, which I’m told can be mid-January,” he said.
“One point I have insisted on in all my talks: that the law that is passed be absolutely in line with the agreement reached between the government and the UN.”
Work continued on the draft law Thursday, as Cabinet Minister Sok An met with a National Assembly legislative commission for less than two hours.
Those present said there were no major differences of opinion, and that 39 of 47 articles have now been discussed. Legislators say they hope to discuss the last eight articles in a session that begins at 3 pm today.
One article discussed Thursday said that any suspect who helped plan a crime or who ordered one to be committed will be held individually responsible, regardless of his or her job. A second said Cambodians appointed to serve on the tribunal will be paid the same wages as foreigners.
(Additional reporting by Ana Nov)