Researcher Urges Restrictions On KR Commanders’ Travel

Travel restrictions should be placed on surviving Khmer Rouge leaders, as their ability to move unfettered throughout Cambodia is an open act of intimidation against the survivors of their brutal regime, genocide researcher Youk Chhang said.

The director of the Document­ation Center of Cambodia—the country’s main repository of material on Democratic Kamp­uchea—said the appearance last week of “Brother No 2” Nuon Chea at the trial of Khmer Rouge regional commander Sam Bith made a mockery of justice in Cambodia.

“I cannot understand how a cold-blooded murderer like Noun Chea came out to defend the perpetrators. What kind of justice is this?” asked Youk Chhang.

“I think that the presence of Nuon Chea in the court is really intended to intimidate his victims,” he said.

As the Khmer Rouge’s chief ideologue—second only to leader Pol Pot—Nuon Chea was at the helm when the Democratic Kam­puchea regime unleashed a radical Maoist experiment that killed more than 1 million people through starvation, overwork, sickness and execution.

None of the regime’s former leaders has stood in a court for crimes allegedly committed during their bloody rule. In previous interviews, none has acknowledged any role in Cambodia’s de­struction—even claiming the damage inflicted by the Khmer Rouge has been exaggerated.

“It’s really an outrage,” said Youk Chhang, noting that Nuon Chea stepped into a Cambodian courtroom for the first time as a defense witness for his military underling, who is accused of or­dering a train ambush that killed 13 Cambodians and led to the abduction and execution of three Western backpackers in 1994.

“[Nuon Chea] showed that no one dares to touch him or open an investigation against him,” Youk Chhang said.

“Without a travel restriction or open investigation…it does not send a good sign to the victims,” he said.

Youk Chhang added that Cam­ bodia’s military court could begin investigating surviving leaders in advance of a yet-to-be negotiated Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court will announce Sam Bith’s trial verdict for the backpacker slayings Dec 23.


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