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Tribunal Defense Continue To Push on Current Ministers’ Roles in Khmer Rouge

Foreign Ministers, Hor Namhong, right, of Cambodia, and Kasit Piromya, left, of Thailand, shake hands before a meeting in the Foreign Ministry in Phnom Penh, file photo.

The testimony is the latest in a line of witnesses who have named the two ministers as former Khmer Rouge cadre.

PHNOM PENH - Khmer Rouge tribunal witness Suong Sikoeun told the UN-backed court on Wednesday that current government ministers Hor Namhong and Keat Chhon were both cadre of the regime, though they were “less powerful” than he was and less than the three former leaders currently on trial.

His testimony is the latest in a line of witnesses who have named the ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Finance, respectively, as Khmer Rouge cadre.

That testimony has been pushed by defense teams, who say the former Khmer Rouge leaders on trial—Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary—are not getting fair trials because of governmental interference at the court.

Hor Namhong has strongly denied he was a member of the Khmer Rouge, claiming he was a prisoner of the Beoung Trabek detention center, not in charge of it. Most recently, he accused the tribunal defense attorneys of stirring up trouble by questioning court witnesses on his role in the regime. Hor Namhong, Keat Chhon and four other senior officials have meanwhile ignored summonses by the court to appear as witnesses.

On Wednesday, Suong Sikoeun became irritated under constant questioning from defense attorneys over the roles of the two ministers. “It gives me an earache, hearing over and over, ‘Keat Chhon, Hor Namhong, Keat Chhon, Hor Namhong,’” he said.

“Among all of the intellectuals returning from overseas there was only me who was appointed head of the section,” he said. “Therefore, both Keat Chhon and Hor Namhong had less power than me. I beg you, please stop troubling them.”