King Wants To Testify at KR Tribunal

King Norodom Sihanouk made an about-face on his Web site Wednesday, announcing that he now wishes to testify at a Khmer Rouge tribunal expected to be jointly held by the government and the UN.

The King’s announcement, written in Khmer, was accompanied by several requests from Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government and the National Assembly.

First, “I will go to the National-UN court every time, from the first day of the trial until the court decides the Khmer Rouge case.

“I testify before the court not only one time but every time the court holds a hearing for questioning this person and that person, every day, every week, every month, every year, as long as I am alive,” King Sihanouk wrote.

He added that he would sit separately from “Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, etc.”

The King also requested that Queen Norodom Monineath be allowed to testify, as she remembers dates well and was privy to his “living conditions.”

Regarding his participation in the establishment of the tribunal, he wrote, “I do not want to sign the royal decree…for appointing the Khmer judges.”

“I am the father of the nation and I have never accused the Khmer judges…of being corrupt, incapable and biased. I only repeat the words of Peter Leuprecht [UN special representative to Cambodia for human rights], the writing of the major foreign media and what is said around the world,” King Sihanouk wrote.

The King followed these comments by saying that he would sign any subdecree concerning judges submitted to him.

Finally, he said he would like for state television to broadcast the tribunal live—“every word of mine, the accused, the witness, that will be said in the court, in order to let Cambodians and foreigners know.”

Meanwhile, the general prosecutor of the Appeals Court, Hangrot Raken, has renewed a 1995 directive asking provincial prosecutors to gather evidence that could be used to try surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge.

He did so after 15 Cambodian advocates for human rights and democracy petitioned him to issue arrest warrants for those leaders, a measure he declined to carry out.

In response to the petition, Hangrot Raken wrote that efforts to implement the 1994 law banning the Khmer Rouge had been undermined in the 1990s, when the government negotiated for the defection of top cadres and allowed them to live freely in the “autonomous zone” of Pailin.

Yam Yeth, chief prosecutor for Battambang province, which contains Pailin municipality in its jurisdiction, confirmed Wednesday that he had received Hangrot Raken’s order in early April, but he wasn’t sure why.

“Why do they ask to arrest [Khmer Rouge leaders] at this time? Why not before in 1996 and 1998 when they were integrated into the government? I think the Khmer Rouge can live freely till this day because something happened behind the scenes,” Yam Yeth said.

Son Chhay, the opposition lawmaker who authored the letter asking for the arrest warrants, said Wednesday he appreciated that the case was finally being addressed again.

“Even if we don’t have the Khmer Rouge tribunal, we want to promote the rule of law. We want to be sure that the government officials don’t interfere,” he said.

(Reporting by Kim Chan, Thet Sambath and Porter Barron)

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