Prime Minister Hun Sen Tuesday said the Council of Ministers will approve a revised version of the Khmer Rouge tribunal draft law this Friday and pass it on to the National Assembly.
The draft law has been stalled since February when the Constitutional Council pointed out that one article concerning the death penalty conflicted with Cambodian law, which does not permit capital punishment.
After four months of waiting for the seemingly minor rewording, Hun Sen told reporters covering the annual international donors meeting in Tokyo last Wednesday that the tribunal could begin before the end of this year.
Speaking Tuesday at the groundbreaking for a bridge on Route 6, 42 km northeast of Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said the draft will move ahead quickly.
“The Council of Ministers this Friday will approve one article of the KR law,” he said in an address broadcast by Apsara radio. “It will only take 15 minutes.
“The war is finished, but justice for the Cambodian people has not yet been found,” he said. “Those who committed genocidal crimes have not been punished. We have to prosecute them because we lost a lot of family members.”
Much work remains before a tribunal can actually be held.
The revised draft law must be approved by the National Assembly, by the Senate and by the Constitutional Council before it is passed onto King Norodom Sihanouk for his signature.
Cambodian officials have asked donors to erect a new building in which to hold the trial. Evidence must be gathered, witnesses and defendants located, lawyers selected, and Cambodian and international judges and support staff hired. So the actual trial date remains unknown.
The bridge ceremony in Batheay district, Kompong Cham province, marks the start of a $4.2 million project. The bridge was washed out by flooding in 1996 and traffic on the major route has been detoured onto a temporary bridge for the last five years.
Also on Tuesday, Hun Sen said a recent audit had found a discrepancy in expenses in one ministry department.
He did not name the department, but said the finance director of the department could be brought to court.
“All ministries need to spend the right amount,” he said. “If you are allowed to use one riel, use it. Do not use two riel.”