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Cambodian Judges, Staff Paid for KR Tribunal Posts, Legal Group Says

A New York-based legal group says it believes Cambodian officials involved in the U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal have to pay bribes to keep their jobs.

The Open Society Justice Initiative said today (Thursday) local judges were among the tribunal staff allegedly forced to give a significant percentage of their wages to Cambodian government officials.

Tribunal representatives say the allegations are unsubstantiated. They say an independent financial audit is under way, but that it has nothing to do with the claims.

Tribunal observers already have expressed concern about the credibility of the court. They say some of the Cambodian judges have a history of corruption and may not be independent.

The tribunal was established in 2003 to prosecute former leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime. The ultra-Maoist group is accused of killing nearly two million people between 1975 and 1979.

The Khmer Rouge led a radical campaign to establish a classless, agrarian society. Most of their victims died from execution, overwork, disease and starvation.