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Delayed reaction: Boycott of tribunal irks Hun Sen

Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed his seeming impatience with the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday, criticising a monthlong defence boycott of proceedings that ended last November for delaying the trial, while conspicuously ignoring the charges issued on March 3 in government-opposed Cases 003 and 004.

“I would like to send a message: When will the trial finish if boycotts become a problem?” Hun Sen asked at a graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Education, before going on to call the boycott “stupid”.

However, he also came to the impromptu defence of lawyers for defendants Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, telling citizens “please don’t be angry with the lawyers” for representing convicted war criminals.

However, the premier made no mention of the recent charges in the upcoming cases, which he has previously said could spark renewed civil war and should not be pursued.

The fact that the recent charges were issued in absentia represented their death knell anyway, said Cambodia Justice Initiative program officer Panhavuth Long yesterday.

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