HOPES that Ta Mok or other Khmer Rouge leaders will ever be tried are fading
rapidly as it becomes clear it is in neither Funcinpec nor CPP's interest to
have the top echelon of the KR speaking in an open forum.
agreement between Funcinpec and CPP parliamentarians over a legal amendment
allowing up to three years' detention without trial for people charged with
genocide or crimes against humanity scuttled plans for a trial this
It had been announced last week by Mok's lawyer, Benson Samay,
that a trial, under 1994 anti-KR legislation, would be held before September
Under Cambodian law Mok had to have been tried within six months of
arrest and charges having been laid: September 6 is that deadline.
will need to be charged with genocide or crimes against humanity so that he can
be held past that date.
The abandonment of the trial will come as a
relief to both CPP and Funcinpec.
Government sources and those close to
the investigation confirmed that Mok had given detailed information about his
dealings with Funcinpec both before and after the July 1997 coup.
adviser Om Yieng Teng said that Mok had implicated a number of people, many of
whom would be worried.
"I think Prince Ranariddh and Nhek Bun Chhay have
amnesties but other people do not," he said, referring to the King's pardon for
Ranariddh and Bun Chhay following their conviction on weapons-importing charges
Benson Samay put it more poetically when speaking of the 70 to
80 witnesses/co-defendants who would be called if a trial went ahead, saying
they would range "from princes to peasants".
No-one is saying
specifically what Mok has told investigators, but one source said he has
outlined contact between Funcinpec before and after July 1997.
that Mok had said the contact was much more clandestine before the July coup.
When asked what the contact involved, the contact said "money, guns and men",
but he refused to be more specific, saying it was too politically
There has been no indication if any of this information was
embarrassing to the CPP, which also had contact with the KR at that
Mok's information has given Hun Sen a powerful weapon to hold over
his Funcinpec coalition partners.
For Funcinpec members individually, Mok's
revelations are career-wrecking at best, and at worst could result in criminal
charges being brought.
Under the law from 1994, supporting or cooperating
with the Khmer Rouge is considered a crime equal to being a member of the
movement. It carries the same penalty of 20 to 30 years of imprisonment or a
For Hun Sen, the situation is perfect as is. So long
as the threat remains, Funcinpec are hamstrung and he and the CPP have complete
If any trial goes ahead, he loses that advantage unless he can
completely control the evidence that the court hears.
Some analysts are
further lowering expectations of whether a Khmer Rouge tribunal will ever spring
into existence at all.
Says one longtime observer: "The UN cannot set up
a trial without the consent of the Cambodian government.
have already rejected the first proposal for an international tribunal, and I
don't believe the UN will make a third try if Hun Sen turns down the outline of
this mixed tribunal - which one might fear that he will."
The decision to
amend the law to delay this month's trial did not have Funcinpec's support
But Samay's comments about which witnesses would be called,
and allusions by other people to the implications to Funcinpec, soon brought
them into line.
One government source said that Mok is in a no-win
position and this scared Funcinpec into agreement.
were worried that Ta Mok still has a few cards up his sleeve and that he would
implicate them. They became very nervous about this.
"Ta Mok has nothing
to lose. He can implicate whoever he wants and it doesn't even have to be
Analysts point out that contacts between the Khmer Rouge and
Funcinpec during the post-coup period are already well-documented therefore
Mok's revelations must contain sensitive or embarrassing information about
events before that time.
Senator Kem Sokha explains that some Funcinpec
lawmakers feared that the court case against Mok would be used as a political
instrument, allowing the government to accuse and prosecute anybody it saw
"If the courts were independent, there would be no problem in trying
Ta Mok under the law banning the Khmer Rouge.
But the courts are not
independent, so many Funcinpec politicians prefer to wait for an international
tribunal," he says.
CPP lawmaker and member of the party's steering
committee Cheam Yeap said that Prime Minister Hun Sen had no input into the law
Nevertheless, Hun Sen was quick to speak out against a Mok trial
under the 1994 law when it popped up on the horizon, stating that it could
reveal information embarrassing to leading political figures and neighboring
Some analysts see this as yet another sign of the Prime
Minister's reluctance to put former Khmer Rouge on trial.
prosecutors are still awaiting the legal UN experts that are supposed to help
draw the legal foundation for a mixed Cambodian/international Khmer Rouge
Their arrival was postponed from June to early August, but at
Post printing time there was still no certain date of arrival.