According to previously classified documents from 1998 recently reviewed by Sveriges Radio (SR), Sweden rebuffed the US request for assistance in arranging a trial for Pol Pot, whose policies are believed to have resulted in the death of more than 1 million people in Cambodia in the 1970s.
The documents explain that in 1998, when Pol Pot was under house arrest and days before his death on April 15th, “representatives from American authorities” approached personnel with Sweden’s foreign ministry to discuss a secret plan to bring Pol Pot to trial.
Other sources told SR the plan was to have Pol Pot taken to neighbouring Thailand where he would be put on an American plane and flown to Sweden, although the plan is not described in the declassified documents.
There were two alternatives for putting Pol Pot on trial, according to the documents.
One suggestion was for Sweden to arrange a trial; the other called for Sweden to hold Pol Pot in a Swedish prison until a trial could be arranged in another country.
The first alternative was rejected by Sweden’s Ministry of Justice as it would have required Sweden to file request to have Pol Pot extradited from Cambodia. The process would have required a preliminary investigation as well as a detention order from a Swedish court.
The second alternative, according to Swedish justice ministry officials, would have involved an illegal detention, in violation of Swedish law.
The memo also cited justice ministry concerns that the length of time that had elapsed since the crimes, as well as the long distance between Sweden and the scene of the crimes, created a risk that the evidence presented against Pol Pot would be too vague.