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UN official to seek meeting with Hun Sen to resolve Duch dispute

UN official to seek meeting with Hun Sen to resolve Duch dispute

Christophe Peschoux has denied testimony that he told former Tuol Sleng prison chief Duch that he could serve a prison sentence in Belgium.

THE UN human rights representative for Cambodia said Sunday that he would request a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen to resolve a misunderstanding about a meeting with former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, that occurred 10 years ago. 

Hun Sen said last week during the first visit of Surya Subedi, the UN's new rights envoy, that Christophe Peschoux, country representative for the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, attempted to help the former Khmer Rouge leader escape prosecution in Cambodia and instead serve a prison sentence in Europe shortly after his 1999 arrest.

Peschoux has said the account of their meeting was incorrect. He told the Post Sunday he would meet with Om Yienteng, the head of Cambodia's Human Rights Committee, to arrange a meeting with Hun Sen to "solve" the problem directly.

"The best thing is to have a direct conversation. We have old issues to resolve," Peschoux said Sunday.  

"I don't want a verbal exchange through the media, so this is the next logical step to preserve our own long-term interests," he added.

Peschoux interviewed Duch in Battambang province in May 1999 and was part of a small group of people who advocated that the former Khmer Rouge leader should be tried legitimately outside the country.

Duch, who is currently being tried at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, has testified that the UN official told him during the interview that he could serve a prison setence in Belgium.

"Peschoux made an effort to find political exile for me, but it was not realised. They asked me to be in jail in Belgium on May 3, 1999," Duch told judges at the war crimes court in April.

PM to ‘investigate' case

Though Peschoux has denied this, Hun Sen said last week that he would "not allow" Peschoux to remain in Cambodia if Duch's version of events turned out to be true.

"I will investigate this issue, and I will send the documents to the UN human rights body in Geneva," he said during a speech at Chaktomuk Theatre.

"We will not allow you [Peschoux] to stay in Cambodia quietly, and it is not a funny issue," he added.

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