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Australia Grants Tribunal Extension Money

The cash-strapped Khmer Rouge tribunal received $456,000 from Australia Thursday, enough, officials said, to continue the Cambodian side of operations through December 2008.

"We consider [the tribunal's] continued operation and smooth and ongoing activity in the prosecution of those trials to be of a high priority, not just for Cambodia, but for the region and the world," said Australian Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance Bob McMullan, who announced the contribution Thursday.

The infusion will allow the Cambodian side to operate as long as the UN-side of the hybrid courts, as the courts move from the investigation to trial phase.

"This is a very good sign, a very encouraging sign for us, for the second phase," tribunal spokeswoman Helen Jarvis said.

In total, the tribunal is seeking as much as $114 million to extend proceedings against five jailed Khmer Rouge leaders through 2011.

While some donors are considering further funding, others have said they need assurances the tribunal will meet international standards.

"Australia is contributing among the others," Council Minister Sok An said at the announcement of the funding Thursday. "The other countries within the international community…will contribute, and I think we will have no problem on the issue of financing."

With the Australian money "we have so far enough funds to run until the end of 2008," he said.