Pen Sovann Plans ICC Complaint Against Vietnam

Former Cambodian Prime Min­ister Pen Sovann, who was installed by the Vietnamese after they toppled the Khmer Rouge, but was later removed and imprisoned in Vietnam, has announced a plan to file a complaint against Cambodia’s eastern neighbor at the International Criminal Court.

Mr. Sovann, who is now a CNRP lawmaker, said on Friday that he would file the case sometime early this year with the financial help of unnamed Cambodians living in Australia who are giving him money to hire a foreign lawyer. 

He said the case would focus on the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, which led to the ouster of the Khmer Rouge regime on January 7, 1979.

“It’s true that I am going to file a case against the Vietnamese government over January 7, 1979, because Vietnam claimed they came to help Cambodia, but in fact they had the ill intention to grab Cambodia’s territory,” he said.

Mr. Sovann himself was part of a group of self-exiled former Cam­bodian Communists who fled Cambodia after becoming disenchanted with the Khmer Rouge and later returned at the head of the Vietnamese military invasion that toppled the Pol Pot regime.

He was the country’s first post-Khmer Rouge prime minister, but was forcibly removed by the Vietnamese in late 1981 in an ouster triggered by his calls for the withdrawal of the country’s forces from Cambodia.

Mr. Sovann said Friday he would cite as evidence that Vietnam had criminal intent his own arrest as well as the disastrous K5 campaign, during which thousands of people died while reinforcing the Thai border against the Khmer Rouge during the mid-1980s.

“The Vietnamese government has faked history about January 7, 1979, and the Vietnamese government imprisoned me in the west of Hanoi for 10 years and 52 days before I was released by the October 23 Paris Peace Agreements,” he said.

The Vietnamese Embassy could not be reached for comment.

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