Opposition Slams Trial Delay Bill

The opposition Sam Rainsy Party blasted Monday a draft law that would allow the government to delay trying captured rebel leader Ta Mok, warning it would continue “the impunity destroying Cambodia endlessly.’’

The Sam Rainsy Party “be­lieves [the proposed legislation] is an intention which will guarantee that there will be no trial against” the Khmer Rouge, said Kong Korm, Sam Rainsy Party vice president, in a statement.

The National Assembly is expected to pass a law Wednes-day that would allow a court to detain Khmer Rouge leader Ta Mok for up to three years without a trial, instead of the six months now mandated by law.

Advocates argue the law will buy the government time to forge an agreement with the UN for a tribunal to prosecute Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes committed during the 1975-79 re­gime. The law also would allow the government to try Ta Mok on crimes against humanity, instead of solely on a 1994 law banning Khmer Rouge membership.

But the draft law has drawn fire from human rights groups and opposition party members who worry it will be used to delay a tribunal or abused in the future to detain political opponents.

CPP lawmakers and some diplomats have warned that a trial based on the 1994 law would expose embarrassing details about the collusion of some government officials with the rebels, threatening Cambodia’s stability.

On Monday, Benson Samay, the lawyer representing Ta Mok, said in a statement that he is duty bound to launch the best defense for his client, even if it means calling Prime Minister Hun Sen or King Norodom Sihanouk as witnesses. The statement was in response to contrary Khmer-language press reports.

“I have to defend the interests of my client,’’ Benson Samay said. “If other people are involved in the Khmer Rouge case and Ta Mok mentions them in court, they—including common people, government officials of all levels, the King, royal family—must go answer at the court.’’

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