UN signs accord to try Khmer Rouge leaders on genocide charges
THE UNITED Nations signed a landmark agreement with Cambodia yesterday to set up courts to try the aging leaders of the 1970s "Killing Fields" genocide of the Khmer Rouge.
The UN chief negotiator, Hans Corell, signed the accord on behalf of the UN General Assembly, which last month endorsed plans to create "extraordinary chambers" in the Cambodian legal system to try Pol Pot’s few surviving henchmen.
"This is indeed an historic day for Cambodia and all humanity," his Cambodian counterpart, a senior minister, Sok An, said at the Chaktomuk Conference Hall, the likely venue of the trial.
Mr Corell conceded the negotiations, which stretched over five years, had not been easy but said he hoped they had paved the way for justice for the estimated 1.7 million victims of the ultra-Maoist regime. "With this step, the quest of the Cambodian people for justice, national reconciliation, stability, peace and security is brought closer to realisation."
Nearly two million people are believed to have died at the hands of Pol Pot’s government during its reign of terror from 1975 to 1979.
Most of the victims were executed or died of starvation, overwork or disease as the Khmer Rouge’s vision of a peasant utopia instead became one of the 20th century’s worst atrocities.
After years of delays, money is now the only major obstacle to the trial. An estimated cost of 11.5 million is way beyond the means of the deeply impoverished Cambodia.
Sok An appealed to countries that have pushed for a tribunal to pledge cash or legal expertise for the trial. He said he expected the courts to be up and running before the year is out.
Pol Pot died in 1998, but most of his top comrades are still alive and living freely in Cambodia even after surrendering. Only one of the group’s top leaders, the military chief Ta Mok, is in jail.
The courts, with a mixture of international and Cambodian judges, will function in some ways like national courts and in other ways like the international tribunals that have been created to prosecute crimes against humanity in Rwanda and Yugoslavia.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east