Prime Minister Hun Sen believes that the Khmer Rouge leaders should be tried in a Cambodian court rather than by an international tribunal, according to a report in Asiaweek magazine.
Hun Sen told Asiaweek he believes an international tribunal set up by the UN would be “impossible.”
UN investigators visited Cambodia last month to assess evidence for a possible tribunal targeting the leaders of the Khmer Rouge era. Investigators who met with the prime minister said he had expressed guarded approval of the investigation.
But in an Asiaweek interview, to be published Dec 11, Hun Sen said he prefers a tribunal in Cambodia rather than a trial abroad.
“It would be easier if the tribunal is set up by Cambodians in accordance with Cambodian law with international assistance,” the prime minister told Asiaweek’s Dominic Faulder.
He also said that Ta Mok, Nuon Chea and other top Khmer Rouge leaders should be tried in absentia if they cannot be arrested immediately.
“It is better that we hold a trial in absentia, issue a verdict, then ask other countries for their cooperation to arrest these people,” he said.
While prominent cadre such as Ta Mok, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are almost certain to be targeted, Hun Sen would not specify which of the leaders would be brought to trial.
However, those who have been amnestied, such as rebel cadre-turned-defector Ieng Sary, would not be free from prosecution, he added.
And he dismissed speculation that his own past as a Khmer Rouge commander might cause him to be brought to trial. “It would be ridiculous if one holds a trial for Pol Pot and then also holds a trial for the one who toppled Pol Pot,” he told Asiaweek.
Improving his image overseas is one of his goals in the coming five years, Hun Sen said, as is making the new government last the full five-year term.
He vowed that upholding the law will be a priority. Commenting on the investigation into an apparently remote-controlled rocket attack in September on a convoy of parliamentarians in Siem Reap, Hun Sen said authorities have some clues, but the case is not complete.
That attack, he said, has left him fearful. “You can ask me whether I am afraid to die,” he said. “Yes. I am scared.”
And he speculated that he may be ready to retire when the new government’s five-year term expires.
“I am a bit strange. If people don’t ask me to leave, I would like to do so,” the newly sworn-in prime minister told Asiaweek. “But if they ask me to leave, then I will stay.”