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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cambodia To Terminate Khmer Rouge Tribunal If Sihanouk Still Wanted To Testify

Then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk (R) during a meeting with
Khmer Rouge leaders in Cambodia's "so-called" liberation zone, in April 1973.

Great heroic King Norodom Sihanouk will become a confrontation between Cambodia and the United Nations in the trial process for former Khmer Rouge [KR] leaders

13 September 2007

Rasmei Kampuchea
Translated from Khmer and posted online
Source: KI-Media

"Great heroic King Norodom Sihanouk will become a confrontation between Cambodia and the United Nations in the trial process for former Khmer Rouge [KR] leaders," said an unattributed report from the 13 September edition of the pro-government Cambodian newspaper Phnom Penh Reaksmei Kampuchea posted on the Everyday.com.kh portal.

The report added that to the United Nations, no one could be above the law, and Peter Foster, the UN spokesman of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [KRT], recently said, "It was up to the KRT judges and prosecutors to decide who should be indicted and who should be summoned as witness."

The report also said that in light of Peter Foster's remarks, the "former king could be invited to the KRT as witness, because he used to be the head of state of the Democratic Kampuchea [DK] regime, before deciding to resign from that position in 1976. Despite the reaction from the king father [Norodom Sihanouk] and from other Cambodian leaders, the United Nations was still adamant that the indictment or summons of witnesses was up to the KRT judges."

The report further said that a letter dated 6 September 2007 sent to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Royal Palace, Mrs. Michelle Lee, deputy head of the KRT administration office, "continued to maintain that only the tribunal judges were competent to decide who should be the witnesses."

The report added that although the letter said "Peter Foster did not intend to affect the reputation of the great heroic king, Mrs. Michelle Lee did not guarantee that the king father would be neither indicted nor summoned to appear in the KRT."

The report said that Lao Mong Hay, former president of the Cambodian Institute for Democracy and a jurist currently in Hong Kong, wrote a controversial article entitled "No Immunity for Sihanouk." In the article he said, "A lot of Cambodian people still believe that Samdech Sihanouk was the instrument for the KR Victory. Therefore, he should be responsible for the suffering of the Cambodian people in the KR regime."

"Therefore," Lao Mong Hay added, "recently the KRT should be neither intimidated nor threatened by the Cambodian Government. This tribunal should preserve its independence. It should persistently withstand the immunity of Samdech Sihanouk and summon him to appear in the law court whenever the truth, justice and/or human rights require it to do so."

The report also said that Lao Mong Hay used strong words saying, "Samdech Sihanouk's immunity from the trial is illegal, does not conform to the Constitution, and cannot be protected. The use of immunity by Samdech Sihanouk himself or with the support from the government to shun the tribunal will only reinforce/strengthen the belief that he was part of the responsibilities for the suffering of the Cambodian people under the KR regime."

Lao Mong Hay added, "It is an obstruction of justice and destruction of the rights of the Cambodian people, who have already endured enough suffering. It will also prevent Cambodia from settling its past story through the court of justice."

"Nonetheless," the report added, "Cambodian leaders are resolutely against any efforts or intentions to bring the king father to the KRT. Political parties, including the Cambodian People's Party, the FUNCINPEC [National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia] Party, the Norodom Ranariddh Party, and some other parties as well as the Senate, the National Assembly, and the Royal Government led by with Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, too, condemn the idea of wanting to have the ex-king, who is sacred to the Cambodian people, tried at the KRT."

To Cambodia, the report added, the trial of the king father was to "set all the Cambodian people's heart on roaring fire." Prime Minister Hun Sen said, "We cannot remain with our hands folded. We must destroy such an intention."

Moreover, recently Khieu Kanhnharit, information minister and government spokesman, too, warned, "Cambodia would terminate the KRT if they still nurtured the intention of bringing the king father to the KRT," the report pointed out.

As for the king father, the report said, he, too, "refused to appear in the KRT as witness." He "indirectly invited Peter Foster and other UN officials to a meeting with him in the Royal Palace scheduled for 8 September to discuss the questions regarding the KR and himself."

However, the report added, UN officials and judges "did not to and see the ex-king as scheduled, partly because the letter of invitation had not been sent to the KRT officially."

To this point, the report further said, there was "fear about a deadlock in the KRT. What would happen if the UN judges still had the intent to invite the king father to the KRT and Cambodia resolutely objected to it?"

"Will the United Nations be still imbued with the idea of inviting the king father to the law court despite Cambodia's objection? The great heroic king will become a test for the cooperation between Cambodia and the United Nations," the report concluded.

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