Trial High on CPP’s Agenda

Prime Minister Hun Sen today is expected to present a “softened” version of the government’s plan to try former Khmer Rouge leaders at a bi-annual meeting of the CPP’s central committee, party members said Sunday.

“We want to get some ideas from the central committee to pave the way for the trial to meet international standards,” said Heng Samrin, honorary president of the CPP and Cambodia’s former head of state.

He added that the government quickly hopes to reach agreement with the UN.

“We cannot be obstinate. We want to coordinate it in order to receive the UN’s agreement,” Heng Samrin said.

According to Heng Samrin, Hun Sen will present a “report” on the trial and take comments and questions from those who had gathered.

Heng Samrin would not, however, disclose what changes would appear in Hun Sen’s plan.

Supreme Court judge and CPP permanent committee member Dith Munty on Sunday also said the Khmer Rouge trial was high on the convention’s agenda but added that he could not discuss the details before the prime minister delivers his report.

According to Som Sourn, deputy chief of cabinet for the CPP, the convention typically reviews the past year and looks forward to the future.

He said the government’s draft law to set up a Khmer Rouge trial is “paralyzed” at the National Assembly. “So we hope we can get good ideas and get the trial going.”

The draft was passed onto the Assembly by the Council of Ministers last month, where officials were hoping for input from the UN. The government has invited a UN delegation but has yet to hear any response.

The apparent mood toward compromise with the UN comes as Hun Sen prepares to attend the UN Conference on Trade and Development next week in Bangkok, where UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will attend.

A Hun Sen adviser said Sunday the premier is not yet scheduled to meet with the UN leader but added it was “very possible.”

Last week, National Assembly Prince Norodom Ranariddh indicated the government is willing to bend toward UN demands and said Hun Sen “wants to break the stalemate.”

High among UN concerns is the government’s plan for “co-prosecutors” in the trial who could only hand down indictments with a unanimous decision.

The UN has criticized this provision in the government’s draft law, saying it would lead to “paralysis” in the system if the two do not agree.

Although the government’s willingness to give in only appears to surface in bits and pieces, political analysts see recent moves as tangible efforts toward compromise.

“Whatever the government’s motivation is, if it results in further cooperation with the UN, it is a step in the right direction,” said Kek Galabru, founder of Licadho human rights group.

Although legal and human rights advocates repeatedly have called for a truly international tribunal, Kek Galabru said some are willing to accept the current plan for a “mixed” tribunal as long as it meets UN demands.

“The government must show that it wants to bring justice to the Cambodian people, who deserve a fair, honest, impartial, credible trial.”

Around 270 party members from around the country are expected to attend the two-day CPP convention at Apsara Television headquarters in Phnom Penh, Som Sourn said.

Central committee member Neang Phat, an army general, said Sunday that attendees generally “listen to speeches and then discuss the issues—all according to the program.” CPP President Chea Sim will preside over the proceedings.

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