Returning from a three-week trip to Europe, opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Sunday blasted the government’s pledge to snub a UN plan for an international-style tribunal and retain control over a trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders.
If the government continues to thumb its nose at the UN, Sam Rainsy predicted, the country increasingly will be less likely to secure financial support from world donors. “I feel sorry,” he said. “I am afraid for the people here, because Cambodia will be more and more isolated.”
Late last week, Minister of Cabinet Sok An told reporters the government will “keep the UN informed” of its progress to try those responsible for the more than 1 million deaths during the reign of Democratic Kampuchea. But instead of assembling a UN tribunal here, Cambodia will shore up support from abroad by enlisting private legal advice from the West, he said.
Sok An’s comments followed negotiations in New York between government officials and the UN, and a meeting between Prime Minister Hun Sen and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan where neither side budged on how to conduct the trial.
Responding to the government’s stern position with the UN, Sam Rainsy said no amount of legal support could provide sufficient legitimacy in the international community, because the government likely would let key Khmer Rouge players go untried.
“We are going to have another trial like the one we had in 1979,” Sam Rainsy said Sunday at Pochentong Airport. “The UN will stay away from such a trial, meaning Cambodians will be denied their justice.”