Global Policy Forum

More Time Sought to Build Case


By Ker Munthit

Boston Globe / Associated Press
July 27, 1999

Cambodia - Lawmakers from Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling party said Tuesday they want to amend Cambodian law to give prosecutors more time to gather evidence against Khmer Rouge leaders. They disagreed on whether the proposed amendment would allow a delay in the trial of Khmer Rouge guerrilla chief Ta Mok, which must otherwise begin by Sept. 9.

The law now allows authorities to hold suspects for up to six months before trial. Forty-two lawmakers from the Cambodian People's Party submitted a petition to the assembly's legislative committee on July 16 calling for the six-month limit to be waived if suspects are charged with genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.

Lawmaker Cheam Yeap said prosecutors have complained that six months is not enough time to investigate such serious crimes. He said that if the measure is swiftly passed, it could be applied to the military court's case against Ta Mok, who was arrested March 6 and arraigned three days later on charges of belonging to an illegal organization.

But another lawmaker who signed the petition, Ek Samol, said he thought the proposed amendment was intended solely for a planned genocide tribunal for Khmer Rouge leaders.

The Cambodian government and the United Nations are working to create a tribunal to try top Khmer Rouge figures for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians during 1975-79.

Besides Ta Mok, only one other senior Khmer Rouge figure now is awaiting trial chief executioner Kaing Khek Iev, better known by his revolutionary name Duch. Every other surviving Khmer Rouge leader lives freely in Cambodia after striking deals with Hun Sen that led to the dissolution of the guerrilla movement.

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