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ECCC Denies Allegations of Pay Kickbacks

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) dismissed an allegation that its judges use their salaries as kickbacks for the government, an official said on Friday.

In addition to denying these charges, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, accused the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) for trying to smear the Cambodian government’s reputation.

"ECCC will no longer cooperate with the New York-based legal group", the Deputy Prime Minister added.

The remarks is in response to a statement from the Open Society Justice Initiative Thursday, which stated that "local judges among the tribunal staff were allegedly forced to give a significant percentage of their wages to Cambodian government officials, in exchange for their positions in the court.”

ECCC spokesman Reach Sambath also denied the allegations and calls the legal group’s statement unfounded.

Long Panhavudh, a project manager for the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) has no comment to the government’s response and directed additional questions to its headquarters, based in New York.

The trial is expected to begin in mid 2007 and the entire process will take three years at the cost of 56.3 million U.S. dollars.