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Khmer Rouge # 2 Man Claims he is Ready to Stand Trial

A former Khmer Rouge leader from Pailin says that he is waiting to participate in the Khmer Rouge tribunal if he is really accused of being involved in the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1979.

Brother number two and leader of the National Assembly of the Democratic Kampuchea, Nuon Chea says that he is not surprised about the jurists selection, and that he is waiting for the court's order to testify his innocence.

In an interview with VOA, he says he acknowledges his mistakes but not a genocide as indicated by everyone.

He says during the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1979, he was wrong for not going down to the grassroots to see for himself about the deeds being committed by the cadre in the regions.

The Document Center of Cambodia's director Youk Chhang cannot be reached for comment. Cambodian Defenders Project executive director Sok Sam Oeun, says that Nuon Chea has enough rights to defend himself, but the truth will lie in the upcoming hearing.

He lives in a small wooden house surrounded by bamboo trees and corn fields, close to Thailand border.

Mr. Nuon Chea is 80 years old, has four children, and 10 grand children. He is living with his wife Ly Kim Seng, 10 years his junior.

He has a number of medical problems including high blood pressure and a heart disease, walking with the help of a cane, and wearing sun glasses all the time. He says he regularly receives medical treatment in Thailand.

Mr. Nuon Chea gladly receives the stringers, but does not want to have his voice recorded nor his picture taken.

He does not want to elaborate too much about the Khmer Rouge tribunal or politics during the Khmer Rouge regime saying just leave the dicision to the government. He says that for everything that happens, it happens for a reason. The reason for Pol Pot regime to be in power was Marshall Lon Nol's coup d'etat toppling then King Sihanouk, and the country behind this coup d'etat was the U.S.

Mr. Nuon Chea did not say what country supports Pol Pot regime, but that the Democratic Kampuchea has a seat at the U.N.

He says that before the court shows any evidences, the number of people (perished during the regime) should not be mentioned.

On the tribunal's effectiveness and criteria, he cannot speculate, but says that he can trust the government and the U.N. overlooking the matters.

He says that everything is not 100% right. He always refers to the words defense of the nation, national idealism, and the people.

The Supreme Council of the Magestracy has officially chosen 30 jurists, among them 17 Cambodians and 13 internationals.

Former head of state Khieu Samphan declines to comment on the Khmer Rouge regime and the tribunal.

He lives in Pailin and says that he is a proud man and is a nationalist.