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In Tribunal Delays, Worries Over Reconciliation

Some victims of the Khmer Rouge say they are worried the reconciliation process will be hurt by limited civil party participation and an already long trial process at the UN-backed tribunal.

Of 4,000 victim applications to participate as civil parties, only around 500 are likely to be accepted, according to tribunal officials.

The tribunal process includes civil parties, who participate in trials alongside the defense and prosecution, as a third body in the proceedings.

At a forum of 200 people in Kampot province on Saturday, Thun Saray, head of the rights group Adhoc, said such a low number among the civil parties would stir disappointment among Khmer Rouge victims.

“The participation is to cure a mental problem, a mental problem caused by the Khmer Rouge regime,” Thun Saray told participants, who came from Takeo, Kampong Speu and Kampot provinces. “More victim participation is better, because they will bring the information back to their families, to their communities, among friends in the village. And this means is one way to find justice and reconciliation.”

Several participants agreed on Saturday, adding that they were worried tribunal defendants Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith and Kaing Kek Iev were aging and could die before they are brought to court. Some questioned why the next trial could start as late as 2011.

“I filed a complaint related to my forced marriage,” one participant, Yos Phal, a farmer from Takeo, said.

The complaint was rejected, he said. “I want to ask if I can file a new complaint. Is it possible that I can file a new complaint?”

“I lost seven or eight members of my family,” another participant who did not give his name said. “But my complaint was rejected. And then I feel regret.”