Thai Embassy: KR Suspects Unlikely To Flee to Thailand

Thai authorities will cooperate with efforts to seek the extradition of Khmer Rouge tribunal suspects who flee to Thailand, but feel it is unlikely that any will do so, according to the Thai Embassy.

Former Khmer Rouge foreign minister and likely tribunal suspect Ieng Sary was in Bangkok speaking to reporters at an airport as recently as Sunday and is known to have long frequented the country.

Ieng Sary visited the Thai capital to get a heart checkup and will re­turn to Cambodia in a few days, the Associated Press reported Sunday.

The two suspects currently de­tain­ed at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cam­bodia—former Brother No 2 Nuon Chea and former S-21 prison director Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch—have been ruled to be flight risks by the tribunal’s co-investigating judges.

Both men, like many other former Khmer Rouge, lived in close proximity to the Thai border prior to their arrests.

An extradition treaty with Thai­land has been in force since 2001.

In a letter received Friday, the embassy said the Thai government, which has contributed $24,331 to the tribunal’s budget, does not feel that suspects are likely to abscond.

“Thailand is always committed to obligations under international treaties and agreements,” First Secretary Thitichai Saengpithaks wrote in the letter dated Oct 3. “However we believe the possibility that the remaining suspects would flee to Thailand is very low since all of them are under the watchful eyes of the Cambodian authority.”

“In addition, it is quite certain that the ECCC must have plan­ned to prevent this from happening,” he added.

Tribunal rules state that the court can request assistance from the gov­er­n­­­ment or the UN secretary-general if foreign governments fail to cooperate.

ECCC spokesman Reach Sam­bath said Friday that the court does not foresee difficulties in making further arrests.

“Two cases have been done so far with Nuon Chea and with Duch, and it was very peaceful,” he said. “We think [suspects] are going to cooperate.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sop­heak also said Friday that Cam­bodia expects compliance from all UN member states.

“We hope that every country, not only Thailand, will cooperate,” he said, adding that authorities believe they know where remaining suspects are.

Political observer Chea Van­nath said she felt that senior Khmer Rouge have braced themselves for trial and foreign governments have little to gain from helping them.

“For these two reasons, I think the Thai government won’t dirty their hands with the Khmer Rouge,” she said.


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