A former Khmer Rouge commander integrated into the government army Friday reportedly confessed that his forces were responsible for last year’s massacre of 22 people in a mostly ethnic Vietnamese fishing village.
Kim Phen, former commander of Khmer Rouge division 785, made the admission to reporters at a ceremony in which he and 147 soldiers were integrated into the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, Kyodo News reported.
He said division 785 troops, based at the tip of the Tonle Sap in Kompong Chhnang province, carried out the massacre on orders from Khmer Rouge military chief Ta Mok, who remains at-large.
The April 18, 1998, attack claimed 22 lives, including 12 ethnic Vietnamese, and injured 16.
One day after the attack, the Interior Ministry blamed division 785, and three days later the now-defunct Khmer Rouge radio claimed responsibility.
Four men identified by provincial police as spies of Ta Mok were arrested about a week after the massacre and sentenced to prison terms.
Two of the men received two year prison sentences and the other two men received 10 years. It was incorrectly reported Friday that no arrests had been made in connection with the attack.
The men had allegedly confessed to doing reconnaissance work to determine how many ethnic Vietnamese were living in Chhnouk Trou village, the site of the massacre.
Beyond that, Defense co-Minister Prince Sisowath Sirirath has indicated that the government will not prosecute alleged atrocities in exchange for national reconciliation.
“We have to let bygones be bygones and we have to admit them into the national reconciliation,” the Prince said Thursday.
General Dom Vuthy, personnel director for the armed forces, said Sunday that the soldiers integrated Friday would likely stay in the same area under the Phnom Penh-based Special Military Region.
No new division will be created to accommodate the men, Dom Vuthy said, citing the 40 percent reduction program the RCAF has said it hopes to undertake soon as part of its reform. (Additional reporting by Deutsche Presse-Agentur)