Hun Sen Says UN Not Needed For KR Trial

Less than a day after reportedly fruitful talks with UN human rights envoy Peter Leuprecht on plans to try former Khmer Rouge leaders, Prime Minister Hun Sen attacked the world body for trying to strongarm the trial process.

Hun Sen was responding to comments made Wednesday by a spokesman for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that the UN would have to review any trial legislation so that it complies with a memorandum of understanding that has to be signed by both the UN and Cambodia before the tribunal can begin.

“It seems the UN is again trying to force Cambodia to do what it wants,” Hun Sen said Friday at the Council of Ministers.

“The representatives of Mr Kofi Annan should take care with their words. I wish to tell the UN to stay calm and be quiet, let the Cambodians work.”

Hun Sen said Cambodia would go forward with a trial with or without the UN’s participation.

“If you don’t join, it’s better for me. I am not going to implement an agreement between the government and you,” he said.

But it’s unclear how the prime minister’s comments are to be taken.

Council of Ministers spokes­man Khieu Thavika later tried to clarify the prime minister’s re­marks, saying he was addressing the UN spokesman specifically, and did not mean that the government was backing away from its still tenuous agreement with the UN over how the trial should be held.

After being plagued by years of faltering negotiations, a semi-concrete trial plan emerged last year when the UN and Cambodia agreed on a mixed tribunal of Cambodian and international judges and prosecutors.

But the process again stalled early this year when the Con­stitutional Council ordered the draft law back to parliament for a second round of debate after discovering a flawed amendment.

A draft of the Khmer Rouge trial law is currently in the hands of the National Assembly’s legislative commission, where it will be reviewed and passed on to parliament for debate.

Hun Sen said the law should be ready for King Norodom Siha­nouk’s approval by September, and that opening arguments in perhaps the country’s most anticipated legal case could begin by the end of the year.

Currently former commander Ta Mok and ex-Tuol Sleng prison director Duch are the only former Khmer Rouge leaders in custody. It’s unclear if any other high-ranking cadre—many of whom live freely in Cam­bodia—will be called to court.

During Leuprecht’s week-long visit here, questions were raised on the likelihood that Ieng Sary, the Khmer Rouge’s ideological architect, will face prosecution.

Leuprecht reported both the King and Hun Sen saying it will be up to the tribunal whether to indict Ieng Sary, who was granted an amnesty by the King in the mid-1990s as the ultra-leftist movement collapsed.

But Hun Sen on Friday ridiculed the UN’s performance in Cambodia during the early 1990s, when the Khmer Rouge were still a feared movement. He reminded the Council of Min­isters that Untac leaders were stopped from entering the Khmer Rouge stronghold of Pailin “by only a bamboo barricade and two small soldiers.”

 

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