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Relatives of Pol Pot Join Visit to Killing Fields

Relatives of Pol Pot joined a group of about 50 people on a trip to the killing fields of Kampong Thom province recently, in what observers said was a positive sign the country was moving toward justice.

Six people in Pol Pot's family joined a trip to the mass graves, including a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, nephew, niece and grandchildren, said Im Sophea, acting director of the Center for Social Development.

The family saw themselves as victims, not accomplices, to Cambodia's genocide, led by Pol Pot, who was born Saloth Sar, Im Sophea said.

The center led the trip to Kampong Thom, the birthplace of Saloth Sar, to help people understand the crimes of the Khmer Rouge ahead of a tribunal to try the regime's top leaders, who are aging and dying. The center also held public forums in Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear provinces to find out what people want to know about the tribunal, Im Sophea said.

"The people would have an idea, an opinion, as though we refreshed their feelings, to see if they had any questions, anything they do not understand about hat regime, about the Khmer Rouge tribunal," Im Sophea said. "What do they expect from the Khmer Rouge tribunal?"

"I was very stunned," said Dul Tin, Pol Pot's nephew by marriage. "When I saw [the mass grave site], I believed it was true. I want to have the trial as soon as possible…so that this society will not go back to that stage again."

Im Sophea said the trip showed Pol Pot's relatives had been victims as much as anyone.

"Therefore, his group does not think it has a part to play in this situation," he said. "They do not feel that what [Pol Pot] did was an act of mistreatment of his family, because they did not support the act."

Khmer Rouge tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said the courts were happy to hear the family also supported the tribunal.