Opposition leader Sam Rainsy Tuesday urged the world to lean on Prime Minister Hun Sen to agree with the UN on how to try Khmer Rouge leaders, saying without that pressure, it will never happen.
“Unless there is really strong pressure from the international community, there will be no trial,’’ he said, upon arriving at Pochentong Airport after a six-week trip abroad.
Sam Rainsy said he believes the government is stalling for time, rather than seriously trying to reach a compromise with the UN on the proposed Khmer Rouge tribunal.
A UN delegation left Cambodia last Wednesday, saying that while they had reached agreement on a number of points for the tribunal, “a few issues still divide us.’’
The main sticking point seems to be the UN demand that a foreign prosecutor control the process of deciding who will stand trial. Negotiators tentatively agreed on other contentious issues, including the makeup of the court and that previous pardons granted to Khmer Rouge leaders will stick but will not apply in the upcoming trial.
Sam Rainsy said he believes officials are being pressured by former Khmer Rouge officials in the government—as well as China and Vietnam—to delay or even prevent a tribunal.
“I don’t see them as really willing to ensure justice for the Cambodian people,’’ said Sam Rainsy, who spoke briefly with reporters en route to his car.
But, he said, he and his party will keep pushing to bring the Khmer Rouge to justice. “I am determined to fight with the Cambodian people to expose the truth,’’ he said.
Sam Rainsy specifically urged the French, Indian and Japanese governments to keep up the pressure, saying he hoped they would not be “distracted by Hun Sen’s attempts to distract and splinter’’ international consensus on the issue.
He said the upcoming meeting of donor nations in May to commit to an aid package for Cambodia “would be a very good opportunity for [donor nations] to reaffirm their stance for an international tribunal’’ to try the Khmer Rouge.
And, on the eve of the three-year anniversary of the deadly grenade attack of March 30, 1997, Sam Rainsy said it is an outrage that no one was ever prosecuted for that crime.
At least 17 people were killed and more than 125 wounded when grenades were hurled into an early morning political rally near the National Assembly.
Rainsy, who was denouncing Cambodia’s corrupt judiciary at the rally, narrowly escaped death. One of his bodyguards was killed.
“To my knowledge, no serious investigation has been conducted, and one conducted by the FBI has been dropped,’’ he said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US had jurisdiction in the case because a US citizen was injured in the attack.
The lack of any arrests “can only worsen the culture of impunity in Cambodia,’’ Sam Rainsy said. “It is a very sad situation, and a very dangerous one.’’
While abroad, Sam Rainsy attended a Sam Rainsy Party Congress in France, where he maintains a home and has family. He also spent some time in Bangkok, said party cabinet chief Phi Thach.