(RTTNews) - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that it was up to the U.N.-backed war crimes court to decide whether to pursue further cases against members of Cambodia's former Khmer Rouge regime.
"This is the decision to be made by the court. The United Nations will discuss this matter with international community members, particularly donors," Ban told reporters in Cambodia.
He made the remarks while visting a former prison and torture center in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, where he offered prayers to the victims of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. He left for Vietnam later on Thursday after completing his three-day Cambodia trip.
Ban's statements came a day after Prime Minister Hun Sen told the U.N. chief that his government would not allow further prosecutions of former Khmer Rouge cadres.
Hun told Ban that the four former Khmer Rouge leaders currently awaiting trial would be the last to be prosecuted, insisting that the move as required to preserve peace and political stability in the country.
The U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Cambodia was established in 2006 to prosecute members of the Khmer Rouge regime. The tribunal has concluded just one case and is scheduled to begin hearing the second one early next year.
Earlier this year, the tribunal had sentenced Kaing Guek Eav, a former Khmer Rouge prison chief known as Comrade Duch, to 30 years in prison after finding him guilty of committing crimes against humanity.
The four other Khmer Rouge leaders awaiting trial in the tribunal's second case are: Nuon Chea--the group's former deputy supremo known as "Brother Number Two"; former foreign minister Ieng Sary, his wife and former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith, besides former head of state Khieu Samphan.
The tribunal has also taken efforts to open two more cases against five unnamed lower-ranking Khmer Rouge cadres, who are accused of murder, torture and other crimes. But the Cambodian Premier's latest statements have cast doubts whether those trials would be held.
The radical Communist Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in 1975 after ousting a U.S.-backed government shortly after the U.S. pullout from neighboring Vietnam.
It is believed that the regime executed over two million fellow-Cambodians in its efforts to forcefully create a peasant society based on Maoist principles before the Vietnamese Army ousted it in 1979. The group's top leader, "Brother Number One" Pol Pot, died in 1998.
by RTT Staff Writer
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