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Investigating Judges Wait for Late Tribunal Case Citations

The citations required for trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders are still unfinished, one month after prosecutors vowed they would be done.

The "citations of assumption" would contain the names of suspected criminals to be investigated and must be forwarded by the prosecutors to the investigating judges.

Without the citations, no investigations can begin.

Cambodian co-prosecutor Chea Leang said the citations were "not 100 percent finalized yet," but should be very soon.

"We are preparing to send them, but they are not completely finished yet since the work is complex," she said. "Therefore, I cannot send them immediately, because the documents are numerous, unlike in normal cases. These cases are complex and numerous."

The prosecution office said June 13 they would have the citations ready in two to three weeks. That announcement came on the heels of the much-delayed adoption of internal rules governing the functioning of the tribunal.

Co-prosecutor Robert Petit said Wednesday the citation delay was due to "finalizing the forms, rather than [collecting] the content" of each case.

Heather Ryan, a tribunal monitor for the independent Open Society Justice Initiative, said the delay was not yet concerning, but a delay beyond August would be.

The tribunal has three-year time limit, and full year of that has passed with not a single indictment in the $56-million proceedings.

Meanwhile, the tribunal announced Monday it was opening registration for Cambodian and foreign defense lawyers to participate in a tribunal.

"We expect lawyers from all over th world to apply to be included in the list of lawyers," Rupert Skilbeck, head of the tribunals defense support section, said in a tribunal statement. "We have already had a great deal of interest from lawyers in Australia, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, the UK and the USA. I am confident that we will be able to build strong defense teams for everyone brought before the court in order to ensure fair trials."

Foreign lawyers will have to pay a $500 fee to the Cambodian Bar Association to participate in the trials. Defense will be handled by "co-laywers," one foreign and one Cambodian.

These co-laywers will be assisted by a defense team of consultants and case managers, the tribunal statement said. The defense support section has opened the application process for those positions as well.