KHMER ROUGE NUMBER TWO HOPES TRIAL WILL MOVE QUICKLY


2001-10-14
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 - The Khmer Rouge leader second only to Pol Pot told Radio Free Asia (RFA) he hopes an international tribunal will try him quickly for alleged crimes against humanity during the Marxist faction's brutal four-year rule. "I'm worried about my weakening health," Nuon Chea, 74, told RFA in an interview in Pailin, Cambodia. "I have problems with my heart, and with my brain....I'm getting older, and aging fast. I get tired, and I can't remember as I could before." Nuon Chea, who ranked second in the Khmer Rouge after the late Pol Pot and was known for years as "brother number two," said: "I don't want the court to delay." Nuon Chea also said he regretted what he called "involuntary deaths" among Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge. "We did not intend to kill our own people," he said, adding that the chief causes of death under the Khmer Rouge were starvation and disease. "We tried to solve the problem, but not soon enough." Cambodia is negotiating a deal with the United Nations that would pave the way for trials connected with the deaths of some 1.7 million Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge from 1975-79. Those trials are widely expected to begin at the end of this year, despite delays resulting from the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States and by discord between the United Nations and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen - a former Khmer Rouge soldier himself. Most Khmer Rouge leaders have yet to be indicted and continue to reside along the Thai-Cambodian border. Only two have been jailed: Duch, accused of overseeing the murder of some 17,000 people at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, and Ta Mok, army chief of staff under Pol Pot. Cambodia's Constitutional Council has approved a law aimed at securing prosecution of Khmer Rouge leaders. Such prosecutions would be unprecedented, as they would entail trial under domestic and international law simultaneously. They would also occur in Cambodia, where the atrocities at issue were committed. During its brief but brutal reign, the Khmer Rouge sought to turn their Southeast Asian country into a rural Marxist utopia, notably by abolishing books, religion, money, and schools. Radio Free Asia (RFA) is a private, nonprofit corporation broadcasting news and information to listeners in those Asian countries where full, accurate, and timely news reports are unavailable. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA aims to deliver such news reports - along with opinions and commentaries - and to provide a forum for a variety of voices and opinions. RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan, and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest journalistic standards and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.

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