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Minister Urged to Clarify Khmer Rouge Role

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has sent an open letter to Foreign Minister Hor Namhong calling for his cooperation in the Khmer Rouge tribunal and to describe his role at a Phnom Penh camp run by the regime.

The March 18 letter questions Hor Namhong’s role in supervising the Boeung Trabek camp in 1978. It asks why he was given the responsibility and trust of the Khmer Rouge at a time when mass killings by the regime were well underway.

The letter was released as a French court prepares to hear Sam Rainsy’s appeal of a defamation case brought by Hor Namhong, on March 25.

It goes on to ask whether Hor Namhong’s “extraordinary zeal” or his “evil” and “sadism” against other prisoners led him to serve the Khmer Rouge.

Hor Namhong declined through a spokesman to comment on the letter, but he has said in the past he was a prisoner at the camp forced into a supervisory role.

Sam Rainsy said he wants Hor Namhong to give evidence to the UN-backed tribunal to shed light on his role and “remove serious suspicions” about the foreign minister’s past.

In October 2009, the tribunal called Hor Namhong and five other government officials to testify in its second case, against five leaders currently in detention. None has so far appeared before the court.

A spokesman for Hor Namhong said he has not responded to the summons because of his busy schedule.

The letter contains new information about the Khmer Rouge submitted to a French court, which is scheduled to hear a lawsuit brought by Hor Namhong against Sam Rainsy for remarks in the opposition leader’s autobiography, alleging that Hor Namhong colluded with the Khmer Rouge at Boeung Trabek, where several inmates died.

“The purpose [of the letter] is to reveal new information that we have received concerning the Khmer Rouge regime, concerning some of our current leaders who were involved with and served the Khmer Rouge during Pol Pot’s time,” Sam Rainsy told VOA Khmer by phone from Paris.

Sam Rainsy said Hor Namhong will have to address the evidence when the French court begins its hearing.