Nothing to commemorate
Former Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot talks to journalist Nate Thayer in his jungle hideout in northern Cambodia, in this photo taken on January 4, 1998. April 15, 2008, marked a decade since Pol Pot died.
April 15 marked the 10-year anniversary of Pol Pot’s death. The former Khmer Rouge Brother Number One died on April 15, 1998, allegedly from heart attack, in the former KR stronghold of Anlong Veng.
He was unceremoniously cremated under a pile of rubbish and tires.
According to Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), Pol Pot is “not the kind of person Cambodian people should commemorate.”
Nhem En, the deputy governor of Anlong Veng and a former Khmer Rouge member, told AFP by telephone: “It is the 10-year anniversary of Pol Pot’s death, but there is no commemoration for his soul.”
The anniversary puts even more pressure on the UN-backed tribunal, convened in 2006 after nearly a decade of haggling, which has experienced delays and a funding crisis. Many have voiced concerns that the defendants could die before standing trial for their alleged role in one of the 20th century’s worst atrocities.
As tribunal officials try to pull together the additional 114 million dollars needed to finish the process, many of the five defendants detained by the court complain of weakening health. One of them, 82-year-old Ieng Sary, has been repeatedly hospitalized.
“If one of them dies (without standing trial), it is a failure for the court and is not acceptable,” said Youk Chhang. “The justice that we wanted from Pol Pot died along with him.” (AFP)
UN chief says justice
UN chief Ban Ki-moon on April 15 marked the 10-year anniversary of Cambodian dictator Pol Pot’s death by urging that country’s courts to deliver “long-overdue” justice for the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge.
“I would like to remind the international community of the urgent importance of bringing to closure one of history’s darkest chapters,” Ban said in a statement.
“With the support of the international community, it is my hope that the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia will soon deliver long-overdue justice for the people of Cambodia,” he added. (AFP)
Survivors file complaints
More than 1,000 survivors of Cambodia’s 1970s killing fields have filed complaints with the tribunal that will try former Khmer Rouge leaders, officials said on April 8.
The UN-backed court’s victims unit has so far received 1,150 complaints, marking greater public participation in the prosecution of those behind the atrocities, officials said.
As well as giving victims an active role in the proceedings, the complaints provide key evidence for investigators trying to unravel the inner workings of one of the world’s most secretive regimes.
“The complaints are very important in helping the court’s investigations – they provide information to both the co-prosecutors and investigating judges,” said Keat Bophal, chief of the victims unit.
While she declined to say whether any victims sought damages, court rules prevent anyone from suing possible defendants for money.