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Cambodian Tribunal Could Be Delayed - 2001-08-14


Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen says a soon to be created genocide tribunal must operate under Cambodian laws and should not have to conform to U.N. requirements. This could mean lengthy negotiations ahead between the United Nations and the government over the details of the court to try former Khmer Rouge leaders.

Cambodian officials are set to meet with U.N. representatives in the coming weeks to iron out details over the formation of an international court that would try former Khmer Rouge leaders. But less than a week after Cambodia's King Norodom Sihanouk signed off on the creation of the genocide tribunal, there are concerns that there could be delays.

Prime Minister Hun Sen reiterated his unwillingness to allow any changes to the tribunal law that may be called for by the United Nations. He has previously said Cambodia will hold trials with or without the United Nations. The United Nations has expressed concerns that the law does not address certain issues, including legal representation, who can be indicted, and the number of Cambodian and U.N. judges and prosecutors on the panel.

Another sensitive issue is the treatment of former Khmer Rouge leaders who have been granted amnesty by the government after their mass defection in the late 1990's. This group includes former Khmer Rouge foreign minister, Ieng Sary, whose defection is credited with crippling the movement and bringing an uneasy peace to Cambodia.

The prime minister has warned that Ieng Sary's prosecution could led to political unrest in the country.

There are only few surviving Khmer Rouge leaders today. The group's supreme leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998.

The Maoist Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia from 1975 until 1979. An estimated 1.7 million people are believed to have died due to disease, starvation, torture and executions.

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