King Norodom Sihanouk issued a statement Thursday saying he would not interfere in a planned tribunal for former Khmer Rouge leaders, especially regarding the possible prosecution of top surviving cadre Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.
The King made his statement a day after former Untac chief Yasushi Akashi told reporters the King expressed reservations about trying Khmer Rouge leaders because of previous agreements made with them.
“I should leave it to the government, Senate, National Assembly and the court which will be established,” the King said. “They have the right and the duty on this issue.”
The King added that he merely told Akashi that “my only request is to keep stable peace for the people, poor people who need peace to better their living conditions.”
Akashi, who left Cambodia Wednesday after a four-day visit, said the King told him during a meeting that the need for justice to be served in a Khmer Rouge tribunal should be balanced with agreements and negotiations made with Khmer Rouge leaders when they defected.
Akashi said he partly interpreted that statement as referring to Khmer Rouge Deputy Premier Ieng Sary, who led a mass defection in 1996 and was granted an amnesty by the King for a 1979 war crimes conviction, for which he was sentenced in absentia to death.
On Wednesday, the National Assembly passed a revised version of the Khmer Rouge trial law, eliminating a technical glitch that had stalled the document since February.
The law must be reviewed by the Senate and the King before the UN and the government can officially establish a tribunal.
(Additional reporting by Gina Chon)