Students, Villagers Want UN To Lead Khmer Rouge Trial

Students on Thursday de­­nounced Prime Minister Hun Sen’s unwillingness to cooperate with the UN in forming a mixed tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge leaders.

“We need a UN court majority rather than a Khmer court, because the Khmer court never did justice in Cambodia,” said Siro Sivutha, a leader of the Student’s Movement for Demo­cracy.

In a state-run TVK broadcast Wednesday, Hun Sen firmly rejected a UN proposal that a majority of foreign judges and a UN-appointed prosecutor form the tribunal. His comments came as UN experts prepare to arrive next week to present the plan to the government.

The group, which includes representatives from several top universities and faculties, called for all Khmer Rouge leaders to be indicted and tried.

Meanwhile, roughly 300 villagers from the Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces echoed their approval Thursday of a UN-dominated court.

As they climbed out of trucks and assembled in front of the National Assembly, they de­mand­ed swift justice for the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.

“We are the victims, and all our relatives were killed by them,” said a haggard Svay Rieng villager Koy Chheing, 75. She said at least 25 of her relatives were killed in the 1975-1979 regime.

The protesters crowded around a National Assembly worker and recounted their stories as he wrote them down.

“They don’t just want a trial. They want to know exactly what the Khmer Rouge did to their people,” said Assembly staffer San Kim Sean.

One angry woman said the group made the trip to Phnom Penh because of a recent government ruling to detain former Khmer Rouge leader Ta Mok for up to three years, instead of bringing him to trial next month.

“We are here, alive from the suffering. If the government delays Ta Mok’s detention for a long time, that is not justice. We want the UN court to try them,” said Hei Bunnay, 47.

The gathering was attended briefly by Sam Rainsy Party founder Sam Rainsy, who said some villagers also raised concerns about food shortages in their provinces.

His party will hold a formal demonstration next Thursday at Olympic Stadium in support of the UN plan. First Deputy Gover­nor for the municipality of Phnom Penh Chea Sophara said Thursday his office will not block their attempts to assemble.

(Additional reporting by Ham Samnang)

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