Tep Khunnal An Important Person For Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Posted by khmernews on October 17, 2007

Den Sorin

A source close to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal said that Tep Khunnal, former Khmer Rouge diplomat, was an important character for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. According to the source, Tep Khunnal will not be the accused but the witness, however. Meanwhile, Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, head of Tuol Sleng (S-21) prison, plays a very preponderant role in the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders as both the accused and the accused witness since he is the former prison chief who killed the people directly and knew the people who ordered him.
Nuon Chea claimed after he was arrested that he was satisfied with living in prison cell because there were doctors to take care of his health.

Nuon Chea said when he lived outside the prison (in his house) he had no doctor to check his health since he had no money to pay for a doctor. Therefore, he is very satisfied with living in prison cell now. The 82-year-old man has been charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, for he had been the brother number two of the Khmer Rouge regime. However, Nuon Chea claimed that he was arrested only since Duch had put blame on him as Duch hated him so much.

“It is no wonder that Nuon Chea is a murder because there is a lot of evidence to prove it,” said Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam).

The source close to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal said that the government did not disagree with the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to call for any witness the tribunal needed. Some of the witnesses the tribunal needs are present government officials including military commanders and people’s representatives.

Tep Khunnal was the Khmer Rouge diplomat to the United Nations during the Khmer Rouge regime, and he was the only man who stayed with Pol Pot until Pol Pot died.

Pol Pot, who already died, had been listed in the list of the people who would receive trial since he was the brother number one of the Khmer Rouge regime. But, because Pol Pot already died, Tep Khunnal became the important witness for the trials of living former Khmer Rouge leaders.

At present, Tep Khunnal is a wealthy businessman in Malay district near Thai border and is also the governor of Malay. Although he used to be a diplomat, he does not want to meet journalists. After the arrest of Nuon Chea, Tep Khunnal always tries to evade journalists. However, when he met a journalist by chance in Malay recently, Tep Khunnal claimed that he was always ready to co-operate with the Khmer Rouge Tribunal if they needed him.

Tep Khunnal is not concerned by the trial or by the responsibility for the mass killings during the Khmer Rouge regime as he was the diplomat abroad. Although he was trying to protect the Khmer Rouge regime, he cannot be considered as an accomplice, since the law of the Khmer Rouge trials does not state the trials of low- or middle-ranking Khmer Rouge officials.

Tep Khunnal became Pol Pot’s closest assistant after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.

A diplomat said if the Cambodian government did everything for the benefits of the country and if the Khmer Rouge court did conform to the international standard, Tep Khunnal and Nate Thayer, American journalist of Far Eastern Economic Review, must be called for questioning in order to find out the truth of the mass killings during the Khmer Rouge regime because they met Pol Pot with his last breath.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol. 14, #3281, Friday, October 5, 2007.


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