Denying Khmer Rouge atrocities now crime in Cambodia

June 7, 2013 at 5:19 PM

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, June 7 (UPI) -- Cambodia has made denial of Khmer Rouge atrocities a crime, a law some observers say is aimed at a political opponent of the prime minister.

A special session of the Legislature called by Premier Hun Sen passed the law this week, The Independent reported. He acted after a political rival in upcoming elections suggested torture implements found at a jail were fakes planted by Vietnamese invaders.

The Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 when the regime was toppled by Vietnam, aided by many Khmer Rouge defectors. Under Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader, Cambodians were forced into rural agricultural camps and an unknown number of people -- estimates range as high as 3 million -- were executed or died of disease and starvation.

Kem Sokha, head of the Cambodian National Rescue Party, suggested the Khmer Rouge would have torn Tuol Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh down before its stalwarts fled instead of leaving it as evidence of war crimes, the Chinese government news agency Xinhua reported. He said the Vietnamese must have manufactured evidence.

"Anyone who says there was no Khmer Rouge genocidal regime in Cambodia has to be punished," Hun Sen said in a statement earlier this week.

The government announced Thursday Kaing Kek Iev, who used the name Duch, has been transferred to a prison outside Phnom Penh, Voice of America reported. He was convicted of crimes against humanity while he was head of Tuol Sleng.

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