Saturday, 4 August 2012

Foreign Minister Blasts Tribunal Defense Over Witness Testimony

Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
PHNOM PENH - Foreign Minister Hor Namhong has accused defense lawyers for stirring up controversy in their questioning of a witness at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal, who claimed the minister had been a member of the regime.

The witness, Rochem Tun, said in court that Hor Namhong had run Phnom Penh’s Boeung Trabek prison camp for the regime.

Hor Namhong said in a statement on his ministry’s website Thursday he was a prisoner there, “where I lost two sisters, their husbands, children and a niece as well as countless colleagues.” He accused the defense team of Nuon Chea, who is on trial for atrocity crimes, of politicizing the court and “stirring up controversy” for questioning Rochem Tun about his role there.

In 2008, Hor Namhong sued opposition leader Sam Rainsy in French and Cambodian courts for making similar claims about his role at the camp. But Rochem Tun told the court this week that Hor Namhong was in charge of the camp for the regime.

Noun Chea’s attorneys have in the past week pushed Rochem Tun, who was a messenger for top officials and a top administration official for the regime’s foreign ministry, to describe the roles of Hor Namhong and Keat Chhon, the Cambodian current Finance Minister. Keat Chhon has not commented on his role in the regime.

Both men and four other top government officials ignored summonses from the court to appear as witnesses in the current case against Nuon Chea, the regime’s ideologue, Ieng Sary, its foreign minister, and Khieu Samphan, its head of state.

Defense attorneys have said they cannot get a fair trial, given the opposition of top officials to the work of the court.

“It is unfortunate that those who continue to defend the legacy of the Khmer Rouge regime seek, in the interest of their defense, to deflect attention from themselves and their cases, by way of stirring up controversy around public figures like myself,” Hor Namhong said in a statement.

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