Deposed first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh said Saturday that Khmer Rouge leaders responsible for atrocities should be brought before an international tribunal—not a national court—without delay.
Speaking during a game of golf with party colleagues, the prince criticized Second Prime Minister Hun Sen’s suggestion that Khmer Rouge leaders might be tried for their crimes in a Cambodian court.
“For crimes against humanity, it must be an international court. We are talking about genocide,” the prince said.
“It is not good to say before or after the elections,” he added, in response to Thursday’s government announcement that no trial would be held before July’s scheduled polls. “It should simply be done.”
The prince also said all those implicated in the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge’s 1975-78 reign should be brought to justice, not just the top three surviving leaders targeted by the government.
In particular, the prince singled out former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary, amnestied by the government in 1996, and Ke Pauk, one of the leaders of the latest wave of defections, believed responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of his countrymen during the 1970s regime.
“Ieng Sary, Ke Pauk, and all killers must be sent to trial, otherwise how can we turn the page on the Khmer Rouge time?” the prince said.
Reports last week said the US, which is pushing for a UN-sponsored tribunal in The Hague, has asked the government not to pardon rebels defecting to the government, in the hope that as many as 20 Khmer Rouge cadres may be prosecuted.
China, a UN Security Council member with the power to veto such a move, has opposed an international trial, saying it is an internal matter for Cambodia.
The Vietnamese government lent its support Friday to that viewpoint, saying that while “such crimes against humanity must be vehemently condemned,” the decision on how Khmer Rouge leaders should be brought to justice was “the right of the Cambodian people.”