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Victims Playing Greater Role: Tribunal

The Khmer Rouge tribunal has now received at least 1,500 victim complaints, in what officials say is increased participation in the justice process as trials for jailed leaders of the regime draw near.

Most of the complaints came from within Cambodia, but others have come in from the France and the US, officials said.

The complaints pass through the now-functioning Victim's Unit to prosecutors, who submit them to investigating judges for use in the trials of five jailed former Khmer Rouge leaders.

Tribunal officials had faced criticism over an initial inability to incorporate the needs of victims in the trial process.

"I think when [judges] receive the information related to [the tribunal] to file a complaint, this is participation of victims to the justice process," Keat Bophal, director of the Victim's Unit, said Thursday.

About 1,150 complaints have so been submitted to the courts since November 2007, she said.

"They can file complaints during the investigation process and up until the beginning of the pre-trial phase," she said.

Complaints for former prison chief Duch or chief ideologue Nuon Chea, for example, would not be valid, as they have already begun the pre-trial process.

Complaints related to former foreign affairs minister Ieng Sary, former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith, and former nominal head Khieu Samphan would still be valid.

To facilitate the filing of complaints, the tribunal will open a new office not far from Norodom Boulevard in the capital, following Khmer New Year, Keat Bophal said.

In Kea, who is in charge of a tribunal outreach program for Adhoc, said the complaint of the people is a necessary support to the courts.

The complaints against the five accused claim compensation and cover the entire period of the Khmer Rouge, he said, adding that Adhoc had helped out with 40 separate complaints through an action committee before submitting them to the tribunal.