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?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor