H UN Sen and Ung Huot have vowed support for efforts to bring Pol Pot to an international
trial - lashing out at Prince Norodom Ranariddh at the same time - but skepticism
abounds over the Khmer Rouge supremo ever being brought to justice.
In a letter to a United States senator last week, the Prime Ministers expressed hope
that "notorious criminals" including Pol Pot could face an international
tribunal in a "trial of the century". The pair also strongly attacked Ranariddh,
accusing him of breaching Cambodian and US law by colluding with the KR.
Diplomats and some government officials say that attempts to establish an international
tribunal to try Pol Pot have been scuttled by foreign condemnation of Hun Sen's July
power grab, and by ousted Prince Norodom Ranariddh's de facto military alliance with
"The momentum for an international tribunal against the Khmer Rouge leadership
was gaining pace before the breakdown of the coalition in July, but I fear that momentum
may now be lost," said one foreign diplomat.
The Cambodian government submitted a request to the United Nations in June for the
creation of such an international tribunal, while Funcinpec negotiators with KR hardliners
in Anlong Veng claimed that they were close to persuading Pol Pot's deputies to hand
him over for a trial.
The subsequent July 5-6 overthrow of Prince Ranariddh has seen Funcinpec resistance
fighters join with KR from Anlong Veng to fight the new government, while the UN
has refused to recognize either Hun Sen or Prince Ranariddh.
"Until the United Nations can resolve the issue of exactly who should represent
Cambodia, it is unlikely that they will make any decision on setting up a tribunal,"
the diplomat said.
The UN Credentials Committee decided Sept 19 to leave Cambodia's UN seat vacant indefinitely,
a move widely interpreted as a blow to Hun Sen and de facto recognition of Ranariddh.
The foreign diplomat said it was certain that Ranariddh was "supping with the
devil", adding: "We should remember these are not the 'new' Khmer Rouge
he is dealing with. These are the people who are responsible for the Cambodian genocide."
Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng appeared to agree, saying late last month: "The
US and UN support for Ranariddh means they are inadvertently supporting the Khmer
Rouge, the real killers in our nation who Ranariddh has joined with to fight against
Nothing has been heard of Pol Pot since he was officially purged from the guerrilla
movement in a July 25 "People's Tribunal" in Anlong Veng, dismissed by
many observers as propaganda.
US senator William Roth, a Republican from Delaware, last month submitted a senate
resolution in support of an international court to be set up to try Pol Pot and other
His move prompted a letter from Hun Sen and Ung Huot, who replaced Ranariddh as First
Prime Minister, which said that the KR "are using any means necessary to regain
political legitimacy and power in Cambodia".
The Prime Ministers accused Ranariddh and his allies of colluding with the rebels,
in "gross violation" of Cambodian and US law, especially the Cambodia Genocide
Justice Act, and that their "crimes" should not be tolerated.
It maintained that the July fighting in Phnom Penh was an attempt to prevent a return
to power by the KR, after Ranariddh's collusion with the rebels had "brought
the country to the brink of civil war".
The Prime Ministers appeared to imply, but did not directly say, that they believed
Ranariddh should join Pol Pot in the dock.
Proclaiming that the Cambodian people were grateful that the KR's war plan had been
frustrated, they wrote: "Now, with some encouragement of some friendly countries,
we hope to be able to apprehend and to hand over those notorious criminals, including
Pol Pot, to your proposed international criminal tribunal," they wrote. "It
will be the trial of the century."