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'A Dozen' Could Be Charged in Tribunal, US Ambassador Says

To listen to Part One of VOA Khmer's coverage of the ambassador's US visit, .

To listen to Part Two, .

To listen to Part Three, .

Less than two weeks after the Khmer Rouge tribunal brought a former cadre on charges, the US ambassador said Saturday he expects as many as 12 leaders of the regime to be investigated.

Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli spoke at a dinner for the Cambodian-American community in Atlanta, Ga., while on a trip through the US.

Speaking to about 200 guests, Mussomeli said he expected more former Khmer Rouge leaders to be investigated by the special tribunal courts.

"We'll have at least, I would guess, somewhere around a dozen people being brought up on charges for genocide," he said.

So far four confidential suspects are being investigated, and one, Kaing Khek Iev, the former torture chief known as Duch, has been charged.

Hundreds of people are guilty from the regime, Mussomeli said, but it was not feasible to charge and investigate all of them.

This tribunal may still encounter obstacles, he said, because there are differences in training, experience—and culture—among the co-judges, prosecutors and investigators.

Mussomeli also addressed a range of issues raised by the Cambodian-American guests, including Preah Vihear temple, the detention of defrocked monk Tim Sakhorn, border issues, immigration and visa problems, business and trade.

Mussomeli was invited to the forum by Chhay Huor, a prominent Cambodian-American community leader in Atlanta. The ambassador will return to Cambodia in September.

The ambassador said the US supported Preah Vihear temple's attempts to become a Unesco World Heritage site. The US would send a team of experts to Cambodia by the end of the year to investigate the temple's bid for international status, Mussomeli said, adding that the US position on the temple was that it in fact belongs to Cambodia.

Mussomeli said he was "disappointed" with the apparent expulsion of defrocked monk Tim Sakhorn and his subsequent arrest in Vietnam.

The ambassador said he had spoken to Interior Minister Sar Kheng, who in turn promised to look into the case.

"When I go back, I'll check on it, I promise," he said. The US also shared Cambodia's border concerns, he said. The borders between Cambodia and its neighbors should be clearly marked, today, whether a kilometer or two had been lost along the way, he said.

"What is important is to have a clearly defined border, because you don't want 1 kilometer to become 10 kilometers to 100 kilometers, 20 years, 30 years from now," Mussomeli said.

The dinner guests raised concerns with the ambassador that immigration policies had made it difficult to obtain visas. Mussomeli said he would look into visas when he returned to Cambodia in mid-September.

He also railed against corruption, saying no political will, weak laws and a poor judiciary system contributed to the problem.