Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge denounces him
U.N. urges genocide trial for 'killing fields' leader
June 17, 1997
Web posted at: 10:32 a.m. EDT (1432 GMT)
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- A radio broadcast by Cambodia's Khmer Rouge has added to the mystery surrounding the fate of Pol Pot, who led the now disintegrating rebel movement during its brutal "killing fields" rule in the late 1970s.
The broadcast, following four days of radio silence by the rebels, left it unclear whether the ailing 69-year-old Pol Pot was dead or alive, in control or deposed.
It accused him of unspecified "betrayals," which they said had "ended," a reference some analysts interpreted as meaning Pol Pot was dead or had left the country. Government officials were divided over whether the announcement was a trick.
Dates mentioned for the betrayals coincided with government accounts that Pol Pot fled his northwestern Cambodia stronghold in Anlong Veng last week after having Khmer Rouge defense chief Son Sen executed for treason.
Since then, Pol Pot and a handful of followers have been reported on the run toward Thailand, pursued by former comrades turned enemies. Thailand and Cambodia have sealed their border in the area to prevent him from escaping.
The rebel broadcast said anti-Pol Pot Khmer Rouge forces had rallied behind Khieu Samphan, who for years has been the president of the Khmer Rouge's provisional government.
Khieu Samphan, however, was being held by Pol Pot as a hostage, First Premier Norodom Ranariddh told reporters in Phnom Penh.
Khieu Samphan recently announced that his faction of Khmer Rouge wanted to form a political alliance with Ranariddh.
"They broke from Pol Pot and are willing to join the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces," Ranariddh said. Cambodia's Second Premier Hun Sen opposes such an alliance.
Genocide trial urged for Pol Pot, others
The Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia from 1975-1979 in a brutal, Maoist regime blamed for the deaths of 2 million Cambodians through overwork, starvation, beatings and executions.
Thomas Hammarberg, special representative for the U.N. secretary-general for human rights in Cambodia, said on Tuesday that Khmer Rouge leaders responsible for mass killings should face trial by an international genocide tribunal.
Ranariddh agrees. "I hope that we will be able to take Pol Pot alive and send him to an international court," he said on Tuesday.
The Khmer Rouge waged civil war in the countryside after it was ousted from power by Vietnamese-backed opponents in 1979, and spurned the results of a U.N.-supervised general election in 1993.
The guerrilla movement began unraveling last August when a senior rebel, Ieng Sary, broke with hardliners and eventually made peace with the government. Since then, thousands of rebels have defected to government ranks.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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