Posted on 5 December 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 641
(Posted by CAAI News Media)
“The Prime Minister said, ‘Some do take the opportunity to use the Khmer Rouge court again and again… it is a fatal case. I do not interfere in the court affairs, but the court did not put off the war [with the Khmer Rouge]; and be careful, in case the court creates war and division in the society again…’
“This statement was made by Prime Minister Hun Sen again on 3 December 2009 during the 27th International Day of Disabled Persons in Phnom Penh, in relation to the intention of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to summon more people to testify.
“On 30 November 2009, the lawyer of a Khmer Rouge leader demanded that the investigating judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal question Prime Minister Hun Sen and some government officials, for having politically interfered in the affairs of this court. But yesterday, the head of the government, Mr. Hun Sen, stated that he does not interfere in the court affairs, but he just pointed to intentions to destroy the peace, which could hardly be recovered by summoning more former Khmer Rough leaders for questioning. This kind of an expression of concern is considered by a foreign defense lawyer of a former Khmer Rouge leader to be a criminal offense.
“Nuon Chea’s defense lawyer mentioned Prime Minister Hun Sen’s words, saying in September 2009, that the Prime Minister stated that he himself fled from the communist regime in 1977, adding that witnesses do not need to testify at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
“Nuon Chea’s defense lawyer, Mr. Michael Pestman, said to the news agency AFP and was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post, for their publication on 30 November 2009, as saying, ‘Mr. Hun Sen really told all summoned witnesses that they do not need to cooperate with the tribunal. That means he committed a criminal offense and it seriously affects the legal investigations of this court.’
“A similar suggestion, which AFP had received, mentioned the words of government officials they had used in October 2009 that the six parliamentarians and high ranking officials of the government, summoned by this court, do not need to testify.
“Mr. Pestman added, ‘Mr. Hun Sen’s statement is affecting the hearings to seek justice for our clients, because those government officials are direct witnesses whom we need for this process.’ He added, ‘At least, these words can weaken the legitimacy of the court.’
‘Yesterday morning, Mr. Hun Sen did not exactly refer to any Khmer or foreign lawyers, prosecutors, or judges, but stressed that this measure intends just to provoke turmoil in Cambodia.
“Mr. Hun Sen said, ‘They try to create turmoil in order to exploit the benefits for themselves.’
“After the celebration of the International Day of Disabled Persons yesterday, Mr. Hun Sen said, ‘From 1993 till now, when Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea, and other leaders of the Khmer Rouge cabinet arrived back, we considered this as the stage where the political and military organizations of the Khmer Rouge had been dissolved.’
“Mr. Hun Sen added that he would rather let the Khmer Rouge Tribunal fail, than would he let it to create a new war in Cambodia. He stated, ‘A hearing is just a hearing, but the peace must be kept also, and national unity must be maintained. You must balance these. Do not play with them, it can be fatal; and 100,000 to 200,000 people would die if there would be war again; who will then call the Khmer Rouge, or go to call them back from the forest again? I am old now. When I went to call the brothers and sisters [the former Khmer Rouge people] back from the forest, I was not yet 50 years old… I would rather let the court fail, but I will not let war break out. I want to say this clearly to the people. If the court fails, let it be.’
“Mr. Hun Sen is the 7th person who was to be summoned to testify.
“Even though Mr. Hun Sen is worried about the breaking out of war again because of the summons for more former Khmer Rouge leaders, the former prime minister of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea in the 1980s, Mr. Pen Sovann, supports the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to summon more former Khmer Rouge leaders to testify, who are now high ranking officials of the Cambodian People’s Party.
“On 8 October 2009, Mr. Pen Sovann told Khmer Machas Srok related to this case that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is an independent and professional court which can provide justice to Khmer citizens who are victims of the Khmer Rouge. He said, ‘Nobody who was involved in the past Khmer Rouge history, no politician, should interfere in this court, because this court is independent… I support this court as it has its rights, its independence, and its role.’
“Prime Minister Hun Sen frequently warned that there will be instability if this court continues to summon more former Khmer Rouge leaders for questioning. But Mr. Pen Sovann claimed that there will not be any instability. He went on to say, ‘I think that this could not happen. It is only the personal opinion of Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen; he wants to protect persons of the former the Khmer Rouge Regime.’
“The four top former Khmer Rouge leaders, who are at present already being detained, are the former head of state, Mr. Khieu Samphan; the former president of the National Assembly, Mr. Nuon Chea; the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ieng Sary; and the former Minister of Social Affairs, Ms. Ieng Thirith; in addiion, there is also the former S-21 (Tuol Sleng) prison chief Duch, who was a middle level leader, who was brought first to the hearings.
“On 7 October 2009, the French investigating judge, Mr. Marcel Lemonde, and also a co-judge of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, summoned six high ranking officials of the Cambodian People’s Party to give testimony. Those six officials are the president of the Senate and of the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Chea Sim; the honorary president of the Cambodian People’s Party and president of the National Assembly, Mr. Heng Samrin; the Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Keat Chhon; the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Hor Namhong; and two other senators, Mr. Sim Ka and Mr. Ouk Bunchhoeun. Mr. Hun Sen is the 7th person of the Cambodian People’s Party who was summoned for questioning and to testify.”
Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #546, 4.12.2009
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Friday, 4 December 2009