ECCC Reparations

This blog is designed to serve as a repository of analyses, news reports and press releases related to the issue of RERAPATIONS within the framework of the Extraordinary Chambers in Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a.k.a. the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Flashback: 1998 Noun Chea and Khieu Samphan's VIP Tour of the Country

Two Khmer Rouge leaders who surrendered to the Cambodian Government last week have begun a seaside holiday break amid continuing controversy over the warm welcome given to them by the authorities.

Caroline Gluck: Golf course and swimming pool
Khieu Samphan, former nominal leader of the Khmer Rouge, and Nuon Chea, the movement's chief idealogue, were key figures in Cambodia's reign of terror during which an estimated 1.7 million people died.

"They need a break," said Long Narin, an aide to the two, who, after years spent in the jungle, have received a "no-arrest" pledge from the government.

Escorted by military police providing tight security, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea drove with their families in luxury vehicles to the seaside town of Sihanoukville, the first leg of a tour that will take them to the ancient Angkor temple complex and their home provinces.

A hotel on the Sihanoukville beach - VIP treatment
In Sihanoukville, they are staying in what is said to be the best hotel, in rooms with a view of the Gulf of Thailand 50 m (yards) away, across sparkling sands.

The BBC correspondent in Phnom Penh, Caroline Gluck says the defectors are being treated as VIP guests. They even had lunch at Prime Minister Hun Sen's residence, a further indication that the premier has no intentions to bring them to justice.

"The Paris peace accords did not say anything about putting the Khmer Rouge on trial, so I have to welcome them for national reconciliation," Hun Sen said, brushing aside widespread international calls for a tribunal to try the Khmer Rouge leaders.

International pressure for trial

King Norodom Sihanouk would support setting up such a body.

"An international tribunal would have the perfect right to take up the case of genocide in Cambodia because it concerns crimes against humanity and that concerns the conscience of the world community," he said in a statement, and warned that he would not authorise amnesties for the two Khmer Rouge leaders.

The king's son, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who is President of the National Assembly, has also said that he supported the idea of a tribunal, particularly if it had international backing.

The United States, Britain and France have all issued strong statements saying that leaders of the Khmer Rouge must be held accountable for their action.

UN assessment

United Nations legal experts are currently assessing evidence against senior Khmer Rouge members and will offer recommendations for a possible tribunal, either overseas or in Cambodia.

"The defection of Noun Chea and Khieu Samphan does not change the plans," said Thomas Hammarberg, the UN's top human rights officer for Cambodia.

Several possibilities are being considered by the UN team, Mr Hammarberg said, adding that it was necessary to send a message to future generations in Cambodia that atrocities must be punished.

"Considering the scale and the brutality of the Khmer Rouge crimes, genuine healing in Cambodia will be extremely difficult without a justice process," he said.

The UN experts are due to report next month on the feasibility of putting key Khmer Rouge leaders on trial but our correspondent says without the full co-operation of the Cambodian government it will be hard to see how that might happen.


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