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US Wants Khmer Rouge Leaders Tried

May 6, 1998

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) _ The United States has urged the Cambodian government not to grant amnesty to Khmer Rouge leaders as part of any peace deal and wants as many as 20 brought to trial for crimes against humanity.

In a letter to Cambodian leader Hun Sen, the United States singled out Ke Pauk as a key leader it wants tried for atrocities, the Foreign Ministry said.

Ke Pauk, who played a major role in the murderous purges during the Khmer Rouge’s 1975-1979 rule, recently defected to Hun Sen’s government. The Khmer Rouge regime was responsible for the deaths of up to 2 million Cambodians from execution, overwork and starvation.

The letter, dated Monday, did not name any other Khmer Rouge leaders, but said Washington wanted as many as 20 brought to trial, the ministry said. These would presumably include the three leaders of the hard-line Khmer Rouge faction still fighting Cambodian government troops, Ta Mok, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

The letter from Carol Rodely, the U.S. Embassy’s charge d’affaires, showed opposition ``in the strongest possible terms to giving any ... eventual amnesty to Ke Pauk and other Khmer Rouge leaders,″ the Foreign Ministry said.

Ieng Sary, a top-level Khmer Rouge leader, was granted amnesty in a 1996 deal that led thousands of war-weary Khmer Rouge guerrillas to lay down their arms.

The United States has renewed proposals for a U.N.-sponsored tribunal following the death last month of the group’s leader, Pol Pot. China, which has veto power as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has expressed opposition.

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