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Cambodian Lawyers Trained for Tribunal

Negotiating jurists conceded on snags over foreign-lawyer participation but ignored many requirements put forward by the Cambodian Bar Association, observers said Wednesday, as Khmer Rouge tribunal meetings inched closer to a Friday deadline.

Meanwhile, training of Cambodian lawyers proceeded, in a sign the bar association was capitulating on other fronts.

The last three days of meetings had brought progress, close observers told VOA, but suggestions from the bar association—that foreign lawyers pay high registration and membership fees and would be under the direct control of the bar—were passed over in favor of other resolutions, which were not elaborated on.

Cambodian and international judges and prosecutors have been meeting for more than a week to find common ground over internal rules that would govern a tribunal of Khmer Rouge leaders. Sticking points between local and UN-appointed jurists include the rights of the accused, protection of witnesses and the role of foreign lawyers, among others.

But turning over control of foreign lawyers to the Cambodian Bar Association could mean a water-down trial not up to international standards, rights workers have said.

As negotiations continued, the first 60 Cambodian lawyers attended a training course on international law and genocide from the International Bar Association.

In the past, the Cambodian Bar Association prohibited such training.

"This workshop is important because it links the court with international standards and fills the gap that Cambodian lawyers lack," said Reach Sambath, a spokesman for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the official name of the tribunal.

Rupert Skilbeck, principal defender for the tribunal, welcomed the training.