Cambodia Tribunal: Up to 8 Defendants; New Budget's Fate Uncertain
The Associated Press
By KER MUNTHIT
Thursday, February 14, 2008
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia's genocide tribunal expects to try up to eight suspects over the Khmer Rouge's brutal rule, while seeking to nearly double its staffing levels to 530, according to a tribunal planning document.
The cap on the number of prosecutions was noted in a document that outlines the tribunal's proposal to increase its budget to $170 million — a sharp increase from the original $56.3 million.
The document with the revised budget estimate — presented to donor nations in New York last month — was obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.
The tribunal, which opened its offices in early 2006 after years of wrangling between the Cambodian government and the U.N., took five suspects into custody last year and hopes to begin their trials later this year.
Starvation, overwork, lack of medical care and execution led to the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people during the 1975-79 communist Khmer Rouge regime.
The budget document says more money is needed to expand services and personnel to allow the tribunal to operate through March 2011, instead of December 2009 as had been anticipated earlier.
"This extension is based on a more realistic expectation of the work of the court, with a maximum number of eight detainees," it said. The document did not explain how the number had been arrived at, or who the additional suspects might be.
The five senior Khmer Rouge leaders under detention — including the group's former head of state, Khieu Samphan, and its foreign minister, Ieng Sary — are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
There are fears that the aging and infirm defendants could die before facing justice. The group's leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998.
Officials authorized to speak for the tribunal could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The tribunal has been dogged by allegations of corruption and delays. Donors have pressed it for reforms and more transparency in its conduct.
"The tribunal will have to explain clearly what kind of reforms they are undertaking with regards to administration and why they have chosen a budget like this," said Tom Barthel Hansen, a Danish Embassy official, whose country contributed about $500,000 to the original budget.
He said it was not yet clear how his government would respond to the new request.
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