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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cambodia pledged to proceed Khmer Rouge trial

The Cambodian government reiterated its pledge to prosecute former leaders of the Khmer Rouge, a senior official said Sunday. Chea Sim, president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP), marking the anniversary of the 1979 defeat of the Khmer Rouge, lashed out criticism of the slow pace of the promised trials. "We wish that those entities who constantly look at the process in a negative way would take a more balanced approach to their stance and activities and stop trying to blackmail the Cambodian judicial system, sovereignty, national honour and distort history to suit their own political agendas," Chea Sim said. "The CPP undertook the struggle to save the people and has constantly searched for justice for the victims of the genocidal regime," he said.

The 56-million-dollar joint UN-Cambodian trial process finally began its prosecution phase in July, but has stalled again amidst fierce wrangling over internal rules needed to proceed. Critics including New York-based Human Rights Watch have accused the government of meddling in the process and of lacking the political will to move swiftly ahead with the trial, budgeted to take just three years. Some critics have expressed doubts that the resolve of the government, which still contains a number of former Khmer Rouge cadre who defected and fled to Vietnam to form the nucleus of the movement which would return to defeat Pol Pot's regime. Pol Pot died in 1998, while another prime candidate for trial, Ta Mok, died in hospital last year.

Other candidates are elderly and complaining of ill health, and advocates of a trial have warned it must proceed with haste or risk never taking place at all. Read more!