Khmernews

Financial Issue Becomes the Last Important Obstacle of KR Tribunal

Posted by khmernews on September 10, 2007

By : Somnang
So far, senior Khmer Rouge (KR) Tribunal’s officials have claimed that the trials of former top KR leaders are going to be held in early 2008. However, some civil society organization officials and observers say the KR trials may not get underway as planned since the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is facing many obstacles among which financial issue is a crucial one. This problem will block the process of the ECCC and the trials of former KR leaders will have to be delayed too.
Now the ECCC, also known as the KR Tribunal, is planning to appeal to donors for more funds to secure the budget of the trials for the period of 3 years.

“The ECCC is planning to appeal for more funds in October in order to complete the budget of $56.3 million for the trials which will last till 2009. We are lacking of $8 million,” said KR Tribunal’s Cambodian Spokesman Reach Sambath. “The ECCC and the United Nations are going to appeal to donors in early October for funds for the expenses of the KR trials.”

Among the $8 million needed, Cambodia, which has promised to pay $13.3 million of the $56.3 million for the KR trials, is lacking $4.9 million while the United Nations, which has promised to pay $43 million, is lacking $3.2 million.

Up to present, the ECCC has started for more than one year since June 2006.

Former Tuol Sleng Prison Chief Kaing Guek Eav, aka Duch, has been the first suspect detained by the ECCC of crime against humanity.

In the near future, four other KR leaders are going to be accused. They are thought to include Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, and Meas Mut.

Recently, former king Norodom Sihanouk has been accused by a human right group which asked for the removal of his immunity from the KR trials. However, the former king has been protected by the government as Prime Minister Hun Sen doesn’t allow any violation towards the former king.

Former KR leaders have been condemned for the massacres of at least 1.7 million innocent Cambodians during their reign of terror between April 17, 1975 and January 6, 1979.

So far, only Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, former head of Tuol Sleng prison, has been detained at ECCC awaiting trial. Other former top KR leaders including Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea, Ieng Thirith, and Khieu Samphan are living with freedom.

Recently, Nuon Chea, former president of the KR National Assembly, has denied that he had been involved in the mass killings during the regime led by his group. Moreover, he said he was ready to testify the mysteries of the KR regime in the upcoming trials. Meanwhile, Khieu Samphan, former head of state of the KR regime, claimed that he is a “patriot”.

All Cambodians both living inside and outside the country insist that the trials of former top KR leaders be held soon so that the masterminds who created the Khmer Rouge and the reasons of the massacres during the “Killing Fields” regime would be revealed.

As the former KR leaders are ageing and some are even with illnesses, they might have died before the trials take place if the trials are delayed even more. As the result, both Cambodia and the United Nations must find ways for the trials of the former KR leaders to get underway as soon as possible.

Observers of the progress of the KR Tribunal said that the budgetary shortfall is the last crucial obstacle to which the United Nations and Cambodia have to attend their most urgent attention; otherwise, the trials of former KR leaders cannot be held in early 2008 as planned. Consequently, the former KR leaders would have died before trials and the expense of $56.3 million would be useless as Cambodians could not receive justice.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol. 14, #3128, Sunday-Monday, September 2-3, 2007

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