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Remains of Victims Are Tribunal Evidence, Justice Official Says

The remains of Khmer Rouge victims should not be ceremonial cremated until a tribunal is finished, a Ministry of Justice official said Thursday.

The government has received a request that the remains of about 7,000 victims in Kampong Thom be cremated, but the time for such ceremony is not now, said Kao Sopha, under-secretary of state for the Ministry of Justice, speaking as a guest on "Hello VOA."

"It's too early to religiously cremate [them], as the KR trial is in progress," he said.

The remains could be evidence in a trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders, he said.

Former king Norodom Sihanouk has made similar requests, and the government has ordered remains to be put in stupas across the country, but they must not be destroyed yet, Kao Sopha said.

Bones and skulls of victims have become famous hallmarks in Cambodia, visited by many tourists each year as a reminder of the genocide, but there have been increasing calls lately to put the bones to rest, as Cambodia puts its civil wars behind it.