Letter to UN Details Gov’t Stand on Tribunal

Minister of Cabinet Sok An faxed a three-page letter to the UN Tuesday “to eliminate suspicion and express clearly” the government’s position on the makeup of the tribunal for former Khmer Rouge leaders.

“This letter gives the details that Hans Corell wanted to know,” said Sean Vissoth, legal ad­viser to Sok An. “If he doesn’t un­derstand what was in the message, he can ask more when we meet at the table.”

The government sent a second letter to the UN early this month asking Corell to come to Phnom Penh for talks on the UN’s role in the tribunal. Sok An told inter­national donors Jan 16 that he re­ceived a response from Corell ear­ly last week.

Corell has said he would not schedule another visit until he receives written answers to questions he has about the trial law, which was signed by King Noro­dom Sihanouk in August. Sean Vissoth said this latest letter an­swers all of Corell’s questions, but he would not give further details.

Sok An had told donors he would send the letter to Corell by today, when Corell is scheduled to return to New York from a trip to Sierra Leone.

The UN and Sier­ra Leone agreed last week to create a tribu­nal to try those suspected of atro­cities during the West African na­tion’s civil war. About 20 suspects face trial for war crimes, crimes against hu­man­ity and other violations of in­ternational law.

“Both sides have other work to do,” said Sean Vissoth. “Hans Cor­ell has other work to do and we also have other work to do, not only on the Khmer Rouge.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen, speaking Wednesday at the opening of a hospital ward in Tak­hmau, recalled hearing Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea in 1976. Nuon Chea now lives in Pailin and has never taken responsibility for the more than 1 million people who died of overwork, starvation, illness and execution during the Khmer Rouge reign from 1975 to 1979.

“I remember…. I was eating por­ridge. I listened to the radio and I heard Nuon Chea make an announcement…that our people have rice three times a day and have a sweet twice a week,” Hun Sen said to his audience.

“They told a lie to the whole country. I ate only porridge and almost died, but they said ‘great leap forward.’”


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