Cambodian retired King Norodom Sihanouk announced that he opposes the newly inaugurated Democratic Kampuchea (DK) tribunal, saying it will only try a handful of those responsible for the regime and that its budget would be better spent on alleviating poverty, local media reported on Monday.
While the tribunal is intended to try a handful of "old, sickly unrepentant individuals," the true number of those responsible was in the hundreds if not thousands, The Cambodia Daily quoted former king's message in French dated Thursday and posted to his web site as saying.
"To be frank and call a spade a spade. I am against the special Tribunal that has been established in Cambodia to try five or six Khmer Rouge individuals," he wrote.
The budget for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, which stands at over 56 million U.S. dollars, would be best used developing Cambodia, he added.
"With the tens of millions of U.S. dollars reserved for the ' trial'," he said, "one could provide immensely beneficial services to the Little People by offering them mechanical devices for their 'Water Policy', machines for agriculture, land of which they are dispossessed, decent living quarters, plows, cattle...and other things to take them from their misery."
However, Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath noted that the tribunal's budget was far less than those of either the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda or the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
The Cambodian tribunal is expected to indict between five and 10 individuals, although prosecutors and investigating judges would be able to bring charges against more, according to Sambath.