PRIME Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday predicted that an attempt to charge additional suspects at the Khmer Rouge tribunal would be unsuccessful.
If the push for indictments were to go forward, he said, "the result of the trial would be zero".
"All the suspects would die, and the court would run out of money," he said.
His remarks in Takeo province came one day after the tribunal announced that acting international co-prosecutor William Smith had on Monday formally requested the investigation of five more suspects. Also Monday, Hun Sen repeated in a speech at Chaktomuk Theatre his warning that further investigations risked sparking civil unrest that could claim hundreds of thousands of lives.
On Wednesday, he delivered a message to former Khmer Rouge cadres.
"I would like to appeal to the brotherhood and sisterhood of the former Khmer Rouge to remain calm," he said. "There will not be any problems happening."
Hun Sen also said his statements about the tribunal did not amount to an attempt to influence its work.
"Please go ahead with your procedures. I will not have a say, but the thing is that you need to find a supporting force ... you need four votes," he said in an apparent reference to the Pre-Trial Chamber vote that opened the door to new investigations.
In that vote, announced last week, the five-person chamber failed to resolve a disagreement between the international co-prosecutor, who pushed for more investigations, and the national co-prosecutor, who argued against them. The chamber voted 3-2 against them.
The tribunal's internal rules held that the proposed investigations would go forward in the absence of a supermajority, or 4-1 vote.
Hun Sen's statements about the court this week have drawn concerns about political interference, including from Human Rights Watch, which said Monday that judicial considerations should be based solely on evidence.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP