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.