Hun Sen: KR Could Go on Trial by September

“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)



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