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As Tribunal Talks Head Toward Close, No Large Breakthroughs


Negotiating jurist have been unable to completely break deadlocks in talks over a tribunal for Khmer Rouge leaders and would likely need to turn to the prime minister and top UN leadership to do so, observers told VOA Thursday.

While Cambodian and UN-appointed judges and prosecutors have smoothed out some bugaboos plaguing the internal rules that govern the tribunal, not a single major sticking point has been completely resolved, according to two tribunal experts who have been watching the talks closely.

Five Cambodian and four foreign jurists head into their last day of formal negotiations Friday in what observers say could be the last chance to try the leaders of the regime, under which up to 2 million people perished.

Disagreements remain over the independence of a pre-trial chamber, the rights of the accused, protection of witnesses and the role of foreign defense lawyers, the tribunal experts told VOA on condition of anonymity.

Those differences, which are complex and possibly political, may be left up to Prime Minister Hun Sen and the United Nation's upper leadership, they said.

Foreign jurists are not budging on keeping foreign lawyers outside the control of the Cambodian Bar Association, except to register, the experts said.

Another major hitch is the disclosure of prosecutions that do not clear the pre-trial chamber, the experts said.

For example, if a former leader were investigated and prosecutors thought he could be tried, but the process was stopped in the pre-trial chamber, foreign jurists would want details to be public. In Cambodian law, however, provisions for public disclosure are rare. And the jurists have yet to agree on what would happen next.

ECCC spokesmen declined to comment Thursday.

Friday is the final of 10 days of talks, and an official statement on progress is expected at the conclusion of those meetings.

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