Hun Sen Criticizes Summoning of CPP Officials

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday criticized the Khmer Rouge tribunal for summoning the witness testimony of six senior CPP members and said this could prejudice the rights of the defense.

“At first, I have a feeling in reaction, why are they summoning plain­tiffs as witnesses? Because they know these are the people who overthrew Pol Pot and they are also the people who enacted the law to try the Khmer Rouge,” Mr Hun Sen said during an ad­dress to mark the 30th anniversary of the reconstruction of the Na­tional Bank, which was de­stroyed by the Khmer Rouge.

“If they become witnesses, then they will put more blame on the defendants,” he said, speaking at Phnom Penh’s Chaktomuk Con­ference Hall, site of the four-day 1979 trial of Pol Pot and former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, an event staged by the Vietnamese-backed People’s Republic of Kampuchea.

“So what is justice? I just felt that, oh, what are they doing?” the prime minister said. “What is my main concern is that when the plaintiff becomes a witness, then the defendants will be dead. The legislators have passed a law on the trials of the Khmer Rouge and, if they go, it will mean that they go to kill the defendants.”

The court revealed this week that, without the participation of Cambodian Co-Invest­igating Judge You Bunleng, International Co-Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde had summoned the testimony of Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, Finance Minister Keat Chhon, Senate and CPP President Chea Sim, and National Assembly President Heng Samrin as well as senators Ouk Bunchhoeun and Sim Ka.

In his remarks yesterday, the prime minister, who has strongly opposed the court’s broadened scope of investigations, appeared to strike a note of ambivalence, referring to news of the summons as “strange.”

In an interview yesterday, Judge Bunleng declined to comment, either on Judge Lemonde’s summonses or on the premier’s remarks.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday that he had informed Mr Namhong of the summons.

“This morning, I informed him and showed him the summons and then he said he isn’t thinking about this because he is very busy with his work,” said Mr Kuong. “He does not mention about whether he appears at the court or not.”

Lars Olsen, the tribunal’s legal communications officer, said yesterday that the court anticipates that those summoned would comply with Judge Lemonde’s orders despite their senior positions or parliamentary immunity.

“I don’t want to get into any speculation about any immunity because we would expect that any law-abiding citizen would comply with a summons issued by a court of law,” he said.

“I would assume that this would particularly apply to people representing the very law-making organs that have created this court.”

All six of the officials summoned enjoy parliamentary immunity as Mr Sim, Mr Bunchhoeun, and Mr Ka are all senators and Mr Samrin, Mr Namhong and Mr Chhon all hold seats in the National Assembly.

 

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