Pol Pot `sets terms for his surrender'

There was further confusion over the whereabouts of Pol Pot last night, with a senior Cambodian military official in contact with renegade Khmer Rouge guerrillas casting doubt on reports that he has surrendered.

General Nheik Bunchay said the matter was only being negotiated with Pol Pot. The reviled guerrilla leader is reported to be on the run from his jungle stronghold with some 200 loyalists and several hostages, including Christopher Howes, the British expert in landmine clearance abducted by the Khmer Rouge in March last year.

"He has told his former comrades he will surrender, but only under certain conditions," General Nheik Bunchay said.

He said forces loyal to Pol Pot may surrender to a renegade Khmer Rouge force led by the notorious one-legged military commander of the hardline Maoist organisation, Ta Mok, known as "the butcher" to Cambodians. The name was earned during Pol Pot's brutal post-1975 regime, when an estimated 2 million people were either executed or worked to death in labour camps.

Latest reports on the guerrillas' clandestine radio said on Tuesday that Pol Pot had already surrendered to renegade forces, who turned against their leader of 30 years after he ordered a vicious internal purge earlier this month which saw the execution of Son Sen, the movement's long-standing security chief, and 11 of his family. The broadcast said "a new era" had begun for Cambodia, and that Pol Pot was a problem that had now been solved.

But the problem continues. Even if one of this century's most reviled dictators finally surrenders, there is no clear way to bring him to justice.

Cambodia's government has said it would stand Pol Pot before an international tribunal for his crimes against humanity. Both of the country's vying prime ministers have approached the United Nations Secretary-General's special representative to Cambodia, formally requesting he step in to oversee a truth commission, like that begun in post-apartheid South Africa, to determine facts about the secretive Khmer Rouge.

But the story of the Khmer Rouge is far more than a question of just one man's misdeeds. A whole generation of politicians and army commanders in Cambodia, including the two co-premiers, at one time served under or with Pol Pot in the factional civil wars that have racked the country for most of its independent history. "The reason this [tribunal] will not happen is that it would not be in anyone's interests to have the past dragged up, to have Pol Pot tell their stories," said Raoul Jennar, a Phnom Penh-based analyst.

"Execution is the way the group deals with those it terms `traitors'. It is the way they express their concept of justice and there is little reason to believe they would change their minds for Pol Pot," he added.

The prospect of Pol Pot being confirmed dead appears especially heartening for the people of Phnom Penh. Mistreated and forced to leave their jobs and homes for the "Killing Fields" of Pol Pot's regime, which ended in 1979, few have emerged from the past two decades without scars.

Fewer still want to think of Pol Pot as anything but dead. "I was happy when I heard he was finished," said Poli Lee, 43, who saw five members of her family beaten to death in 1977. "It has been difficult for me to live. But now I feel that I can believe he's not coming back."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map