Prince Calls For KR Trial Compromises

UN and government negotiators meeting in New York will each have to make compromises on forming an international tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge leaders, National Assembly Presi­dent Prince Norodom Ranariddh urged on Saturday.

“If both sides still take their same position, then the process will fail. And I think the UN would not return,” the prince said at a ceremony at Pannasastra Univer­sity. “We should negotiate with a clear will. Otherwise, the talks do not need to be held.”

Minister of Cabinet Sok An and UN legal counsel Hans Corell met at the UN on Friday in their fourth meeting since Sok An and a team of government negotiators arrived last week.

A fifth meeting was scheduled to take place on Saturday, a UN statement said. Sok An is scheduled to meet UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan this afternoon.

Asked if there is a target date for the end of the exploratory talks, UN deputy spokesman Hua Jiang said on Friday that there is no fixed date and no fixed agenda for ending the discussions.

Diplomats close to the talks reported that progress was painfully slow but that there had been some movement toward resolving the impasse that led to the UN abandoning the negotiations after five years of talks, the Reuters news service reported.

Last month, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to restart talks that the UN broke off in February 2002.

The UN cited a lack of commitment on the government’s part that the trials would be independent and fair. The UN has objected to the government’s insistence that Cambodia’s laws take precedence in the tribunal.

On Saturday, Prince Ranariddh reiterated his support for a tribunal that adheres to international standards and includes foreign judges. In June 1997, then-co- prime ministers Prince Ran­ariddh and Hun Sen made the original request to the UN to assist in forming and operating a tribunal.

Sok An said last week that negotiators were exchanging “some basic ideas” on how to prepare two fundamental documents, a law on the Extraordinary Cham­bers and an agreement between the UN and Cambodia.

In Hanoi, Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh said Vietnam supports the restart of the talks, but considers a trial an internal affair of Cambodia, the Vietnamese News Agency reported.

“The tribunal will be decided by the Cambodian people, who were the victims of the genocidal Khmer Rouge rule during its 1975 to 1979 period,” she was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Military Court Investigating Judge Ngin Sam An said on Sunday that a request by former Khmer Rouge military commander Ta Mok to be granted bail has been denied.

“If he stays out of prison, it would spoil our investigation, or he would not come to court when the trial begins,” Ngin Sam An said.

Benson Samay, Ta Mok’s recently disbarred lawyer, ap­pealed to the government last month to release the aging former commander because of what he said was the 76-year-old’s deteriorating health.

Ta Mok and Duch, the former chief of the Pol Pot regime’s Tuol Sleng political prison, are the only two former top Khmer Rouge leaders awaiting trial. Both men have been in government custody since 1999.

 

 

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