PHNOM PENH - The UN’s special expert to the Khmer Rouge tribunal, David Scheffer, says he wants the court to conclude two controversial cases opposed by top government officials, in spite of critically low funding.
Scheffer has been seeking funding from international donors to support the court, which is currently trying its second case. The Cambodian side of the court needs about $1 million to finish its work for 2012. The international side needs about four times that to complete its work this year.
The court has completed just one trial since 2006, that against torture chief Duch, also known as Kaing Kek Iev, who admitted wrongdoing and had been in prison since 1999. On Sunday, the court released the regime’s former social affairs minister, Ieng Thirith, after it found her mentally unfit to stand trial. That leaves just three leaders now before the court: Nuon Chea, the regime’s chief ideologue; Khieu Samphan, its nominal head of state; and Ieng Sary, its foreign minister, who is also the husband of Ieng Thirith.
Investigating judges have before them two more cases that would require five more indictments, a move government leaders have said could upset rank and file Khmer Rouge who folded into the government in the 1990s.
Scheffer wrote in an opinion piece in the New York Times recently that court officials would work better on all its cases without the pressures of donor fatigue, even as countries that have funded the court since 2006 have struggled with financial crises and, for Japan, the 2011 tsunami.
In a video conference Monday, Scheffer said the court needed funding to continue its work, including the full investigation of cases 003 and 004. Two international investigating judges have resigned over the two cases, as have a number of high-profile international staff in the office of investigating judges.
Another international judge is expected to begin his work at the tribunal in “coming weeks,” A UN spokeswoman said.