UN defied over `Butcher' trial

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The Independent Online
"THE BUTCHER", otherwise known as Ta Mok, the notorious one-legged Khmer Rouge military leader, will face a Cambodian court on charges of genocide.

The Phnom Penh government has ignored a United Nations request for the perpetrat- ors of the "Killing Fields" to face an international tribunal forcrimes against humanity.

The capture of Ta Mok at the weekend has blown open again the question of where and how former Khmer Rouge leaders should be tried. Two former Pol Pot henchmen, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, also implicated in the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime that left a million dead, surrendered in December and were allowed to go free, even visiting the capital.

The initial questioning of Ta Mok ended yesterday, said General Sao Sok, a military court prosecutor. Under Cambodian law, Ta Mok will have to be charged by this afternoon.

Sao Sok said Ta Mok would face charges under 1994 anti-Khmer Rouge legislation, and they would include genocide. The general did not say whether the trial would be military or civilian.

Human rights groups have attacked the Phnom Penh government for refusing to support an international UN tribunal. Cambodia's Prime Minister, Hun Sen, has said he favours a process of reconciliation, similar to that in South Africa.

Ta Mok is likely to be the token defendant, while the others escape justice. But he is certain to implicate former Khmer Rouge comrades, and that would embarrass Hun Sen and his government for allowing Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea to go free. The two told reporters earlier this year they were "sorry" for the deaths under the Khmer Rouge.

Sao Sok said Ta Mok has blamed the genocide on Pol Pot, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea. Pol Pot died last April after Ta Mok took him captive and offered to hand him to the Americans for trial.

One source said Pol Pot discovered Ta Mok's plan fromVoice of America radio and killed himself. Other sources said Ta Mok poisoned him.