Friday, May 19, 2006

CPP Leaders Favor Jan 7 Start for KR Tribunal

By Prak Chan Thul
The Cambodia Daily
Thursday, May 18, 2006

Senior CPP officials said Wednesday that they would favor the Khmer Rouge tribunal beginning on a Jan 7, the anniversary of the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979 by an earlier incarnation of their ruling party.

“Especially January 7 is good,” CPP Honorary President and National Assembly President Heng Samrin said by telephone.

“It is a victory an liberation day,” he said.

Cheam Yeap, a CPP member and the National Assembly’s Finance and Banking Commission chairman, said the Jan 7 date for the beginning of the Khmer Rouge tribunal hearings was “only an idea of the leaders of my party.”

“This is not forced, just an opinion. The court is independent,” he said.

Jan 7 is celebrated each year with fanfare at CPP headquarters, and the party often reminds voters that its current leaders were among those who overthrew the Pol Pot regime.

Peter Foster, press officer for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, wrote by e-mail that tribunal staff were “doing everything we can to ensure that in the month of July the judiciary officials can begin their work.”

“We are not aware of anything that would delay this goal,” he wrote.

Heng Samrin also said that the Supreme Council of Magistracy selected Cambodian judges and prosecutors on ability alone, not because they were loyal to his party.

“To accuse the Cambodian People’s Party is wrong. Looking for neutral people, you could not find anyone,” he said.

“Such as NGOs, they are not neutral, they are also biased to this or that side a little... you cannot find an absolutely honest and independent person,” Heng Samrin maintained.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said that government officials should not make suggestions regarding the tribunal process.

“Such directions and comments by politicians can only contribute to destroying the independence and hence credibility of the Khmer Rouge tribunal,” he wrote in an e-mail.

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