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Foreign Minister Seeks More Tribunal Money

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong made an appeal to donor countries Thursday for more money to run the Khmer Rouge tribunal, saying the process was running "smoothly" but more funds were needed to keep things that way.

More arrests are imminent, Hor Namhong told reporters outside the Foreign Ministry, adding that the process could go through 2010, an extended time period for which no budget currently exists.

"The lack of funds is not so much, it is somewhat small, and I hope that the international community will contribute to the funds," he said.

Tribunal observers said earlier this week they expect a third Khmer Rouge leader to be brought before the tribunal courts in coming days, though the identity of the defendant has not been released.

Those widely suspected of being under tribunal investigation include Ieng Sary, the former foreign minister of Democratic Kampuchea, and Khieu Samphan, the former nominal head of the regime.

The tribunal struggled through its first year, failing to indict a single Khmer Rouge leader, as Cambodian jurists and their UN-appointed counterparts debated internal rules for the process. Critics have since warned the tribunal could exceed its own time-limit and budget. The tribunal has also come under fire from critics for a lack of transparency in its administration and staff hiring practices.

US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said Thursday the US would be reluctant to contribute to the tribunal if it is not made more transparent.

"We are now, in Washington and here, seriously assessing whether the United States should directly fund the Khmer [Rouge] tribunal," he said.

Hor Namhong said the tribunal was now moving forward, and he anticipated no further problems.

"I believe that in the future, there will be summons or the arrests of other top Khmer Rouge leaders, like Nuon Chea recently, so the procedure is going smoothly, and there will be no other problems," he said.

"The lack of funds is not important," Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said. "The important thing is the court's implementation."

Donors were not happy with the misuse of funds and allegations around the administration of the courts, he said.

"All of this leads to delay, not the budget," he said.

If the tribunal carries forward more than its mandated years, international standards could be comprised, Hisham Mousar, a legal expert for the rights group Adhoc said. "It is a loss to the Khmer Rouge tribunal."