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NGOs Urge Benchmarks, Extension for Tribunal

A group of NGOs has said they want better benchmarks for the Khmer Rouge tribunal, to ensure it will complete its work, which could take another year.

The groups put forth six benchmarks for the tribunal, which is sponsored by the UN at a cost of $56 million but has been beset with difficulties.

The groups sent a request to the tribunal for its administration to set a timetable to try former Khmer Rouge leaders and extend its mandate one year.

Observers worry the tribunal will run out of money before it can try former leaders of the regime, many of whom are old and dying.

Legal Aid of Cambodia Vice President Lor Chunthy said committee members on Monday met with Michelle Lee, the deputy director of tribunal's Office of Administration, requesting the first trial of a leader by June 2008.

"Next year, let's say in June, we should have the first hearing," he said. "Another point that we have is to have an extension from three to four years, so that we will have more information, so it is easy for us to prepare."

Civic groups were willing to do whatever necessary to help the tribunal succeed, he said.