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Cambodia: UN-backed tribunal trying Khmer Rouge leaders calls for more funds

Cambodia: UN-backed tribunal trying Khmer Rouge leaders calls for more funds

The United Nations-backed tribunal trying Khmer Rouge leaders accused of mass killings and other crimes in Cambodia during the late 1970s, which is expected to soon hold its first trial, said today it needs more than $40 million in funds to continue its work through the end of next year.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia has a shortfall of $43.7 million after pledges received so far, the ECCC said in a press release issued in Phnom Penh, the national capital and the seat of the tribunal.

This includes $37.7 million for the UN component of the budget and $6.1 million for the Cambodian component.

Last week a delegation from the tribunal held what it said were “productive discussions… in a most constructive atmosphere” in New York with the Group of Interested States about the ECCC budget through 2010. The talks, based on a revised budget, follow concerns expressed by donors after a draft budget was presented in January.

The statement said the donors had expressed strong support for the ECCC’s work, illustrated by Japan’s contribution last week of almost $3 million to the Cambodian component of the budget and a commitment by the Cambodian Government of nearly $1 million.

Briefing reporters in Phnom Penh, the Director of ECCC’s Office of Administration Sean Visoth noted that a recent public survey indicated that Cambodians continue to give their strong support to the work of the tribunal.

“One of the principal reasons for establishing the hybrid model we are following in Cambodia was to hold the trials in a context that is close to the people, offering them the opportunity to visit the court, sit in the public gallery which holds 500 people, and watch the process broadcast live on radio and television throughout the country,” he said.

Under an agreement signed by the UN and Cambodia, the ECCC was set up as an independent court using a mixture of Cambodian staff and judges and foreign personnel. It is designated to try those deemed most responsible for crimes and serious violations of Cambodian and international law between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979.