Pol Pot May Never See Tribunal on Genocide

By Ehrlich, Richard S. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 24, 1997 | Go to article overview

Pol Pot May Never See Tribunal on Genocide


Ehrlich, Richard S., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Authorities in Cambodia and the West raised doubts yesterday about whether Pol Pot will ever stand trial for his murderous rule as head of the Khmer Rouge.

One of this country's two prime ministers cautioned that Pol Pot's former allies may not let him leave the jungle alive, while a Canadian official questioned whether Ottawa could accommodate a U.S. request that it help bring the Khmer Rouge leader to justice.

If an international tribunal is created, a U.N. human rights official said in Phnom Penh, efforts will be made to try hundreds of Khmer Rouge leaders in addition to Pol Pot.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who shares the prime minister's office with Hun Sen, said he feared Pol Pot would be killed before he could be brought to trial. He said Pol Pot's former allies both inside and outside Cambodia fear being implicated if a U.S.-led effort to bring the Marxist strongman before an international tribunal succeeds.

"It appears to me that some Cambodians and maybe some countries are not really willing to see Pol Pot alive and brought to justice," the prince told reporters near Kompong Speu, 30 miles south of Phnom Penh.

Pol Pot, 69, is in the custody of mutinous guerrillas at the Khmer Rouge's northern jungle stronghold in Anlong Veng, according to Gen. Nhek Bunchhay, the government's chief negotiator with the Khmer Rouge.

Former allies of Pol Pot include China and Thailand, which backed him during his guerrilla war against the Vietnam-installed regime that toppled him in 1979. Hun Sen was a Khmer Rouge cadre until 1977.

Prince Ranariddh and Hun Sen over the weekend petitioned the United Nations to create an international tribunal to try Khmer Rouge criminals for the Marxist-inspired policies that led to the deaths of as many as 2 million Cambodians during Pol Pot's 1975-79 rule.

But that requires approval from the U.N. Security Council, where China has veto power.

Brad Adams, chief of the legal unit of the U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights, said in Phnom Penh that if an international tribunal were created, efforts would be made to bring hundreds of top Khmer Rouge leaders to justice.

"Any tribunal should not focus only on the person Pol Pot," he said. The number of top Khmer Rouge officials who must be indicted "would have to be more than 100" for justice to be served.

"There are millions of victims and their families. All of them have the right to bring to trial anyone allegedly involved," Mr. Adams said.

In New York, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said the United Nations' chief legal adviser, Hans Corell, was looking at how the organization could accommodate Cambodia's request that it establish an international court. …

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