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Tribunal Official To Meet With Cambodians in California

 Cambodians in Long Beach, California.
Cambodians in Long Beach, California.

The international prosecutor for the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal is scheduled to meet with survivors of the regime now living in the US.

The prosecutor, Nicholas Koumjian, will meet with members of the Cambodian Association of America in Long Beach, California, on Thursday, to update them on the progress of the tribunal and allow them to ask questions about the court’s legal proceedings.

Nou Leakhena, head of the Applied Social Research Institute of Cambodia, which has aided many Cambodian-Americans in their bid for justice at the tribunal, said the event will help people feel a sense of hope in the court, as it tries two aging regime leaders, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

“The majority of survivors are not quite happy with the verdict, and perhaps this is an opportunity for them to share their discontent and ask questions,” she said. Court officials “claim they are finding justice for the Cambodian people, but we want to know exactly what that involves and what that means exactly, and how they define justice.”

Nearly half a million Cambodians fled the regime to live in the United States, leaving behind family members who were killed. A small number of them were able to take part in the tribunal.

Chhang Song, an information minister in the government that preceded the Khmer Rouge, will moderate the event. He told VOA Khmer the meeting between victims and a court prosecutor will help explain to them a complicated court process that has become controversial. Questions about testimony of the defendants, or charges against them, can be clarified, he said.

And even if the court can’t deliver “100 percent justice,” it has followed the law, as civilized nation’s do, he said. And it has raised awareness around the world of the regime’s crimes. “The international community as whole says the Khmer Rouge committed wrongdoing,” he said.

The tribunal is currently preparing for the final phase the trial against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, which will begin in earnest later this year.

Meanwhile, the court has also appointed a new international Trial Chamber judge, to replace Silvia Cartwright, of New Zealand, who resigned Sept. 1. She will be replaced by Austrian judge Claudia Fenz, who has served as a reserve judge for the Trial Chamber since 2006.