Kids: Ex-Khmer Rouge leader didn't flee

Staff and agencies
14 July, 2006

By SOPHENG CHEANG, Associated Press Writer Wed Jul 12, 2:36 PM ET

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - The children of a former Khmer Rouge leader who recently left his home said Wednesday he was not fleeing a U.N.-backed genocide tribunal and believes he has nothing to fear.

His departure came a day after prosecutors began collecting evidence for the long-awaited trial of the regime?s ex-leaders for atrocities committed during their reign of terror in the 1970s. It was not immediately clear whether Khieu Samphan had fled to avoid prosecution.

Media speculation over his whereabouts prompted government spokesman Khieu Kanharith to accuse the media of "harassing" former Khmer Rouge leaders.

Family members gave conflicting accounts of where Khieu Samphan and his wife were headed.

"He?s not running anywhere," Khieu Rattana said by telephone. "He has no remorse in his life, because he believes he has done everything for the nation."

"He is not escaping anywhere," Khieu Uddom said in a telephone interview. "He spent years carrying on a (revolutionary) struggle in the jungle and he had no fear about it, so why should he be afraid?"

The regime?s 1975-79 rule left some 1.7 million people dead from starvation, disease, overwork and execution.

A 2003 agreement between Cambodia and the United Nations charges the tribunal with prosecuting senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge and those most responsible for the crimes committed during its rule.

2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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