Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday urged donor nations to quickly put forth funds for a UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal before it loses the chance to try aging former Khmer Rouge leaders.
“This is the problem,” Hun Sen told reporters, referring to the ailing health of jailed Comrade Duch, head of the Khmer Rouge’s Tuol Sleng prison.
“If we do not act fast, we will lose the chance to prosecute them because they are very old.”
In recent weeks, Duch, one of the possible key witnesses for the proposed tribunal, has been hospitalized with an enlarged prostate.
Hun Sen said, however, that with the recent promises of funding from Britain and other countries, he hoped the tribunal would take place “in the near future.”
On Thursday, retired King Norodom Sihanouk defended his earlier criticisms of the planned tribunal, maintaining that money used to fund the trials could be better spent to help the Cambodian people.
Responding to those who disagreed with his views, Norodom Sihanouk wrote in his Web site that he never proposed using the more than $56 million budgeted for the tribunal to buy food for the poor.
Instead, he said he proposed that the money would be used to buy equipment to excavate wells, dig irrigation systems and buy land for the landless.
He noted that the donors themselves would have to consider how to best spend their money.
“These Donors do not have to give money to us Khmers,” he wrote.