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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones