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US Hopes Continue Supporting Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Diplomat Says

Scot Marciel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs for the US State Department, in an interview with VOA Khmer Wednesday.

The US welcomes the recent life sentence ruling against two aging Khmer Rouge leaders and hopes to continue its support for the UN-backed tribunal, a senior US diplomat says.

In an interview with VOA Khmer in Phnom Penh, Scot Marciel, the top diplomat for Asia and Pacific at the US State Department, said the tribunal can serve as an example to Cambodians and the world.

“We are very pleased to be able to contribute to this tribunal, and we certainly welcome the results of the recent case,” Marciel said, referring to recent life sentences for aging leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan. “I know it’s still ongoing, but at least one of the sets of charges was finalized.”

US officials, include Secretary of State John Kerry, have welcomed the verdict, even as the tribunal prepares for a second phase of trial against the two men, who are accused of atrocity crimes, including genocide. Kerry played a key role in negotiations to get the tribunal started a decade ago.

“We think, again, it’s important in terms of accountability and a sense of justice,” Marciel said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s was up to the tribunal to come to that verdict but I think that is very welcome.”

The US has contributed millions of dollars to the tribunal and to NGOs working around it, Marciel said. “We certainly would like to see it continue its work, but we have to seek appropriation from our Congress every year. So I can’t get ahead of our Congress in terms of commenting on what our future assistance would be, but we have provided consistently to it.”

Stephen Rapp, the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for war crimes, said the tribunal has sent a signal to future generations, “that there are going to be consequences” for atrocity crimes. “And we hope by doing this that we can prevent other people from suffering the death, the destruction, the harm, the injury” of such crimes in the future.