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Survey Finds Divide on Tribunal Indictments

Ordinary Cambodians are divided on whether the Khmer Rouge tribunal should seek to indict any more leaders of the regime for atrocity crimes, a researcher said Wednesday.

“They don’t know who should be investigated or charged more,” said Chy Thireth, a researcher at the Documentation Center of Cambodia, who recently led a survey of attitudes for more indictments.

In questioning 1,000 Cambodians across 24 provinces and municipalities, the team found around 57 percent in favor of indictments beyond five jailed leaders of the regime, to as many as 10, while 44 percent said they did not want to see further arrests.

The reminder said they did not have a view or declined to express it.

The Khmer Rouge tribunal is currently holding former regime ideologue Nuon Chea, head of state Khieu Samphan, foreign minister Ieng Sary, social affairs minister Ieng Thirith and prison chief Kaing Kek Iev.

Kaing Kek Iev is slated for trial March 30, the first of the five to face the courts. But tribunal officials remain at odds over whether to indict more, on charges such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, murder or others.

In December, international prosecutor Robert Petite advocated further investigations and arrests, but national prosecutor Chea Leang said time and budget constraints should prohibit more indictments.

Tribunal spokeswoman Helen Jarvis said Wednesday the question of indictments was “a matter that the court is dealing with,” but the Pre-Trial Chamber had yet to set a date for a decision.

Chy Thireth said Wednesday those who don’t want more indictments are afraid for the security of the country.

“They think that [those indicted] would be the former king [Norodom Sihanouk] and high-ranking officers in the government, and they fear insecurity because of that,” he said.