Cambodia to press on with Khmer Rouge trials


The Cambodian government will press ahead with efforts to try surviving leaders of the deposed Khmer Rouge regime despite a UN decision to withdraw from an international tribunal.

"The Cambodian government's position on a Khmer Rouge trial has not changed," a spokesman for Mr Sok An, the Cambodian minister in charge of UN negotiations, said today.

"We are going ahead with our Khmer Rouge trial law."

The UN's legal counsel, Mr Hans Corell, yesterday announced the UN would not be involved with the trial of the Kmher Rouge's surviving leaders because Cambodian law passed last year did not guarantee its independence, impartiality and objectivity.

Mr Corell said the decision to withdraw was made by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and did not involve the Security Council.

Mr Sok An later said he regretted Mr Corell's comments, adding Cambodia was still willing to continue negotiations with the UN. "He [Corell] is not willing anymore to cooperate with the government ... from the Cambodian government side the doors are still open for us," he said.

The trial is intended to deliver justice to the survivors of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime, which killed 1.7 million people during its 1975-1979 rule.

A Western analyst with close ties to the government said legislation made allowances for three types of trials. The first was a UN-backed trial, the second was a trial with international assistance, and the third was one staged solely by Cambodia.

"The preference was to go with the UN, if not, then governments of UN member states or foreign personalities," the analyst said.

"If international judges can't be found, then it will be all Cambodian judges, that's very clearly spelled out in the legislation but it's not the preferred option," he added.