Thursday, September 29, 2005

PM Fears KR Leaders Will Die Unpunished

The Cambodia Daily

Friday, December 3, 2004

Thet Sambath and Yun Samean

Prime Minster Hun Sen expressed concern that the UN’s unwillingness to pay for the Khmer Rouge tribunal would delay the process long enough that former Khmer Rouge leaders would die before going on trial.

“Right now we have the law to prosecute the Khmer Rouge, but the United Nations claims that they do not have the budget,” Hun Sen said at the

Dec 12 anniversary of the Kampuchea National United Front for National Salvation.

“People and I are concerned that former Khmer Rouge leaders will die before the prosecution,” he said. “This is our concern; the budget is the UN’s burden.”

A recent study on popular attitudes toward a Khmer Rouge tribunal revealed that Cambodians overwhelmingly support the process, on the condition that it is held to a high standard.

However, some former Khmer Rouge interviewed by The Cambodia Daily didn’t want a trial, though they said they would abide by the court in order to satisfy victims’ families.

An overwhelming 97 percent of 536 people surveyed by the Khmer Institute of Democracy want to have a Khmer Rouge trial, but only a slim majority would prefer a substandard trial to none at all, according to the Survey on Khmer Rouge Regime and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

But more than 70 percent said they would worry about their personal security if called to testify.

Forty percent of women and 12 percent of men were not aware of the planned trial.

Chan Rith, 56 a former Khmer Rouge soldier living in Pailin, said he fears violence if the tribunal moves forward.

“My idea is if there is no court, it is good, because we now are safe and we have no war,”Chan Rith said. “If we have a trial, we are worried that there will be a rebellion.”

However, even some former Khmer Rouge rebels support the trial. “we, the former Khmer Rouge, also want to have this trial, because we want to clean everything and to clear some Khmer Rouge cadres who were not involved in the killing fields,”said Pich Chantha, 48, a former Khmer Rouge rebel living in Banteay Meanchey province’s Malai district. “We want the former top Khmer Rouge leaders to tell the people about their regime.”

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