03/02/2009, 00.00
CAMBODIA
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Hun Sen could testify at trial of Khmer Rouge

The defense team has asked for permission to question the Cambodian prime minister and former king Norodom Sihanouk, because they possess "information relevant to the pending judicial investigation." Some of the current government leaders abandoned the Maoist movement before its fall.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The defense team for Nuon Chea, a Khmer Rouge ideologue, has asked the international tribunal for permission to question current prime minister Hun Sen, former king Norodom Sihanouk, and other major Cambodian political leaders. These also include Chea Sim, president of the senate, and Heng Samrin, president of the national assembly. These are believed to be in possession of "information relevant to the pending judicial investigation."

Many of Cambodia's current political leaders, including Prime Minister Hun Sen himself, were part of the Khmer Rouge. They left the outlawed organization before its fall, in January of 1979, taking refuge in Vietnam. They have always denied any involvement in the crimes perpetrated by Pol Pot and his followers, which led to the deaths of about two million Cambodians.

The defense team also intends to question 86-year-old king Norodom Sihanouk, who for a while held the symbolic post of head of state during the rise of the Khmer Rouge to power. In fact, he is believed to have access to "sensitive information" about the "leadership" of the Maoist movement, its "strategies" and "policies."

The international tribunal that has been established to rule on the massacres carried out in Cambodia has been the object of criticism in the past because it does not intend to try all of those responsible for the violence. Instead, it is limiting itself to punishing the five defendants currently on trial - Kaing Guek Eay, better known as "Comrade Duch”, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, and Nuon Chea - without conducting a genuine historical review of the massacres carried out by the Maoist revolutionaries.

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