The Khmer Rouge tribunal law was signed by King Norodom Sihanouk Friday afternoon, just a few hours after the government formally sent the law to the Royal Palace, Minister of Cabinet Sok An said.
“His Majesty has signed,” said Sok An. “As the work is finished quickly, I am happy.”
US Ambassador Kent Wiedemann said Prime Minister Hun Sen’s office called him with the news just before 6 pm Friday. He said he wasn’t surprised that the King signed the law so quickly.
“We had indications and expectations that he would sign it this week,” the ambassador said in a telephone interview.
The quick signing put to rest any theories that the King would delay putting his signature on the document on account of his long ties with China. It is expected that tribunal testimony will implicate China as a major supporter of the Khmer Rouge. China has repeatedly stated that it has not tried to influence Cambodian government policy on the tribunal.
The Council of Ministers received the law Thursday from the National Assembly and sent it on to the King Friday morning, according to Sok An.
“I will contact Hans Corell after the King approves it,” Sok An said at the weekly Council of Ministers meeting.
Corell is the UN representative who will now look at the newly-passed law and begin discussions with the government on how an international tribunal would be organized. The UN has shown some concern with several articles in the law.
“Either side has to initiate contact now,” Wiedemann said.
Hun Sen has indicated several times in recent weeks that the government could choose to hold a tribunal without the UN.
Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said he was very happy. “Today is Friday, and Friday in Khmer means prosperous,” he said. “It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that this process will be free and fair.”