Outgoing First Prime Minister Ung Huot told UN experts Thursday that any tribunal to try Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes against humanity should take place in Cambodia, not abroad.
“Should such a tribunal be organized, it should be held in Cambodia,” Ung Huot aide Cheam Lamatin cited the first premier as telling UN legal experts in their meeting at the Council of Ministers, “if not in Phnom Penh, then in Siem Reap.”
Similar tribunals, such as the one involving war crimes in Bosnia, have been held outside the country involved. However, UN officials have not ruled out Cambodia as the site for any future trials.
Three legal experts accompanied by a Khmer Rouge historian and a UN technocrat are in Cambodia for five working days to assess whether there is enough evidence against Khmer Rouge leaders to warrant a tribunal.
Such a body would investigate crimes against humanity during the group’s horrific 1975-79 rule, when an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died of torture, overwork and starvation.
Asked by the UN experts whether Cambodia would be destabilized if influential Khmer Rouge defectors are implicated for their involvement in crimes, Ung Huot said he doubted it.
“This will not affect the peaceful development of Cambodia,” Cheam Lamatin quoted the first prime minister as telling the experts.
Ung Huot also told the experts that he expected a “number of people” to volunteer for the tribunal to clear themselves of accusations of crimes against humanity, Cheam Lamatin said.