“Without any further disturbance from the UN,” a court to try former Khmer Rouge leaders could be established by September, Prime Minister Hun Sen told the Far Eastern Economic Review in an interview published this week.
“The preparations are subject to an agreement with the UN,” Hun Sen told the magazine’s Nayan Chanda, an expert on Cambodia. “If one wanted, it could be achieved within this year.”
A Khmer Rouge trial draft law is currently being reviewed by the Council of Jurists after the Constitutional Council cited technical errors in the measure that refer to the death penalty, which does not legally exist in Cambodia.
The law will again be examined by the National Assembly and Senate before it goes to King Norodom Sihanouk for his approval.
Hun Sen said the government will likely approve the law by June, after which negotiations on a formal tribunal agreement with the UN can begin.
US Ambassador Kent Wiedemann said National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh and other government officials have also assured him that a second review of the Khmer Rouge law will move quickly.
“I think it’s a realistic time frame because the issue at hand is very simple,” Wiedemann said.
In his interview with the Far Eastern Economic Review, Hun Sen also reiterated his concerns that former Khmer Rouge leaders who could face prosecution in a tribunal are unhealthy and could die before a trial begins.
Khmer Rouge commander Ta Mok, the only cadre member in custody beside Tuol Sleng prison head Duch, is reportedly ill, along with other top leaders Ieng Sary and Nuon Chea.
“I am afraid that they will die before the trial. The arrest of Ta Mok, 75, was carried out with the clear goal of bringing him to trial,” Hun Sen told the magazine.
“As to the others who surrendered, it does not mean that they are exempt from the trial, however we prefer to leave it in the hands of the court,” he said.
Hun Sen also cited Laos’ late prime minister and general secretary of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Kaysone Phomvihane, South Korean President Kim Dae Jung and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad as leaders who have inspired him.
(Additional reporting by Gina Chon)