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Ranariddh prefers UN trial role

Ranariddh prefers UN trial role

THE President of the National Assembly, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, said he far

preferred the participation of the United Nations in any future trial of Khmer

Rouge leaders.

His comments came the day after the visiting Indian Prime

Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, offered to send an Indian judge to assist trial

proceedings if the UN stays out of the process.

"I understand that we

have to continue negotiating with the UN in order to find a formula that will

reach a compromise with the UN and our law," Ranariddh told reporters April

10.

"This is a matter for the government - I am not the person who should

write to the UN requesting that it return," Ranariddh said. "The reality is that

we should ask ourselves whether Cambodia has the political will to establish a

KR tribunal that meets international standards."

Ranariddh, who together

with Hun Sen drafted a letter in June, 1997 requesting UN assistance in setting

up a KR tribunal, said a fair tribunal would be impossible without the UN's

assistance.

"I don't believe that the tribunal process will follow that

required in a court of law and within the justice framework, even if there is

participation of foreign judges," Ranariddh said. "[Without the participation of

the UN] there will be no guarantees about transparency and

justice."

Vajpayee made his offer at a press conference with Prime

Minister Hun Sen April 9, saying he would send a judge from India to

participate. It was the first overt indication of support from another country

for a KR trial not involving the UN.

"We would send the judge from India

to participate in the trial," Vajpayee said. "If the UN finally says no, then

the decision will be taken."

Hun Sen said that a number of countries were

trying to act as a bridge between Cambodia and the secretary-general of the UN,

Kofi Annan, whose decision it was on February 8 to withdraw from the proposed

tribunal.

"If the UN doesn't help, Cambodia has already made the decision

that we will go further in this matter. India will be ready to assist," Hun Sen

said.

"I wonder if perhaps the people who work in the UN secretariat

[Annan's office] have been trying to engineer the failure of the trial by

creating obstacles. I wonder also whether they might do again what they have

done before."

When asked whether outside diplomats might be drafted in to

help Cambodia's lobbying efforts at the UN, Senior Minister Sok An said the

country had already tried everything.

"How can we look for [the help of a

third person]?" Sok An asked. "We have already done everything we can. The only

way now is to wait and listen for the requests from the UN."

Om Yentieng,

the personal advisor to Hun Sen, said that as the UN had pulled out of the

process, it was the UN's responsibility to get it back on track.

"Those

who cut the bridge are responsible for linking it again," he said.

Vajpayee arrived in Cambodia April 9 for a two-day visit, accompanied by a

delegation of businessmen and government officials. He was greeted on his

arrival at Phnom Penh's Pochentong Airport by Prime Minister Hun Sen and senior

ministers and foreign diplomats. The visit was the first by an Indian premier

since Jawaharlal Nehru came here in 1954.

During his visit the two

countries signed agreements on allowing direct flights between the two

countries, the restoration of Ta Prom at Angkor Wat, and a visa exemption for

the holders of diplomatic and official passports. The measures should go some

way towards boosting tourism.

The 75-year-old Vajpayee met King Norodom

Sihanouk, Prince Ranariddh, and Senate president Chea Sim.

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