The US Wants To Be In A Position to Support the ECCC Politically and Financially

Posted by khmernews on March 4, 2008

Prach Phothorn

The United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trial (UNAKRT) has overruled the assertions of the government Cabinet’s spokesman who claimed that the Royal Government of Cambodia and the United Nations have agreed to create an expert group to oversee the expense and the time for the process of the Khmer Rouge tribunal. The denial came after it was reported that the Khmer Rouge trial will be extended from 3 years to 5 years and the budget will be increased from $56.3 million up to $170 million.
According to Reach Sambath, spokesman for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the meeting amongst the UN officials Thursday last week focused on other issues which were not related to the creation of the expert group. “The thing which was said by the spokesman of the government cabinet and the stand of the UNAKRT are completely different,” he said.

Recently, news reported that the tribunal will be extended through 2011 and its budget will jump from $56.3 million up to $170 million and that there will be up to 8 defendants brought to justice. However, everything is still unclear while the tribunal is being stalled and facing worryingly budgetary crisis.

The UNAKRT said in a statement that the dissemination of the suspects to be brought to justice is a misunderstanding. The UNAKRT explains that although it was previously planned that there could be 8 suspects, but it does not mean that all the 8 suspects are determined and that it is the absolute policy of the ECCC, holding the trial in Cambodia.

Concerning the gradual progress of the ECCC, a Cambodian-American living in Washington, DC has asked US Ambassador to Cambodia Joseph A. Mussomeli that “what is the United States currently doing trying to expedite to judicial process in trying the former Khmer Rouge leaders, responsible for the millions of deaths from 1975-1979?” The ambassador responded that several other people also asked about this subject.

“One of the greatest crimes of the 20th century has gone unpunished for 30 years. The Khmer Rouge systematically tortured, starved, and eradicated over 2 million fellow Cambodians,” claimed Joseph A. Mussomeli as response to the question.

“Now time is running out as the killers grow old and fade away. Patience is often a virtue, but it can also be a great impediment to justice. All those who died and all those who suffered: their deaths and their pain need to be vindicated. I have hosted literally thousands of Khmer Rouge victims and perpetrators at my home for special discussions on this matter,” replied Ambassador Mussomeli, regarding the process of the Khmer Rouge trial.

“The U.S. strongly supports bringing to justice senior leaders responsible for the atrocities committed under the Khmer Rouge regime. The United States believes there must be accountability for these atrocities, and welcomed the agreement between the United Nations and Cambodia to establish the ECCC,” wrote Mussomeli, “We want to be in the position where we will be able to support the ECCC politically and financially.”
“However, in order to do so, we need to believe, and the American people need to be shown, that the process will meet international standards,” added ambassador Mussomeli.
“As I have said on many occasions, the only thing worse than having no trial, is having a trial that is a farce. We are encouraged by recent developments with the ECCC, and the Department of State is currently reviewing all the facts about the tribunal and its operations, including its capability of meeting international standards of justice,” continued Mussomeli, adding that the US has provided more than $7 million in funding over the past decade for conducting research into document of the crimes of the Khmer Rouge and that much of the evidence that will be presented during the trials will only be available because of this research.

At present, five former senior Khmer Rouge leaders and people most responsible for the Khmer Rouge regime are being detained at the special tribunal awaiting prosecution of crimes against humanity and war crimes. These people include Nuon Chea, former President of the KR National Assembly and Brother Number Two; Ieng Sary, former KR Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister; Khieu Samphan, former President of KR State Presidium; Ieng Thirith, former KR Social Actions Minister; and Kaing Guek Eav, a.k.a Duch, former Director of Tuol Sleng Prison of the KR regime. None of these suspects has admitted their responsibilities for what they committed during the “Killing Fields” regime.

Observers of the Khmer Rouge tribunal have been concerned that the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders might not be able to begin in June 2008 while those former leaders are getting very old and their health is deteriorating. The most concerning problem is the budgetary crisis as other obstacles frequently arise.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Moneaksekar Khmer, vol. 15, #3390, Monday, February 18, 2008.


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