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Experts See Plea in Words of Nuon Chea

In his words during a bail hearing last week, jailed Khmer Rouge ideologue Nuon Chea may have embedded a plea for intervention from the government, tribunal observers said recently.

During statements at his hearing, Nuon Chea praised the government and the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen, but the tribunal is beyond the reach of such intervention, the observers and tribunal officials told VOA Khmer.

“Intervention from foreign countries is still blocking the development of Cambodia to a certain extent,” Nuon Chea said to a panel of pre-trial judges during his hearing.

“The rectangular and win-win strategies of the Cambodian government led by Samdech Akkiak Moha Sena Dechchor Hun Sen will win over all these obstacles,” he said, including several honorifics before the prime minister’s name.

Such statements are attempts to use the tribunal as a “mail box” to pass messages to top officials like Hun Sen, said Hisham Mousar, a tribunal monitor for the rights group Adhoc. “The tribunal is composed of different elements, and its weaknesses are well understood by the Khmer.”

Cambodia’s national courts are roundly criticized for politicization and intervention, but observers said the tribunal was not the same.

“Nuon Chea still thinks Hun Sen is a king, and if [Hun Sen] was able to arrest him and put him in jail, he should be able to release him as well,” said Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia.