The executions of ethnic Vietnamese by the Khmer Rouge could
be the key to genocide charges for jailed leaders of the regime, but
prosecutors documents also recount a conflict between the Khmer
guerrillas and their Vietnamese neighbors that began almost immediately after
the Khmer Rouge came to power.
government does not fund the Khmer Rouge tribunal, but more Vietnamese nationals
were killed by the regime than any other foreign group. The regime also killed
Thai, Lao, French, New
Zealand and US nationals.
"Regarding this issue, several powerful countries, rich
countries, have assisted in funding the Khmer Rouge tribunal already," Vietnamese
Embassy spokesman Trinh Bac Cam said Wednesday.
Closing orders in the case of Kaing Kek Iev, also called
Duch, issued by tribunal judges claim at least 400 Vietnamese civilians and
soldiers were killed at Tuol Sleng prison alone.
Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of
Cambodia, said at least 600 Vietnamese were killed by the Khmer Rouge at Tuol
Sleng and another detention center in Prey Veng province.
In highlighting the conflict, which led to the eventual
invasion of Cambodia
by Vietnamese forces and the ouster of the Khmer Rouge, tribunal documents are
fulfilling a quieter role of the tribunal: a recounting of history that has
been lost on Cambodians in subsequent years.
According to indictment documents posted by tribunal prosecutors
recently, the Khmer Rouge maintained a conflict with Vietnam over border disputes between April 1975 and December 1978.
The conflict took place in border areas including
Ratanakkiri, Mondolkiri, Takeo, Svay Rieng, Kampong Cham and Prey Veng provinces,
and on the island formerly known as Koh Tral, better known now by its Vietnamese name, Phu Quoc.
An invasion force of 150,000 Vietnamese troops began an
offensive in December 1978, driving the Khmer Rouge out of the capital on Jan.
The conflict, and suspicions of Vietnamese agents withing the ranks of the Khmer Rouge, led to the killing of many Vietnamese.
"If there will be a trial, justice is for all
victims," Trinh Bac Cam said.
Tribunal observers said recently prosecutors could seek
genocide charges against the five jailed Khmer Rogue leaders for the killing
of the Vietnamese.
"A part of justice will be shared with Vietnamese
citizens who have their relatives, military and civilian, killed during
Democratic Kampuchea," Youk Chhang said.