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Tribunal Confident US Will Find Funds

A tribunal spokesman said Wednesday the courts were confident Washington would find a way to add money to an increasingly cash-strapped process, even as critics maintain the tribunal's administration lacks transparency.

US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said Monday the US was "seriously" considering direct funding. It currently does not support the tribunal.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath told VOA that the US administration was changing its position.

"We hope that the US will change its heart, because at all times the US took part in the formation of the tribunal," he said. "But up to now, the US has not given any direct aid to the tribunal. Therefore, we understand that the US will change its heart to help the KRT directly. If the US will not help, the US will be late in finding justice for the Cambodian people directly."

The tribunal is seeking more than $8 million more to supplement its UN-supported $56.3 million budget. The UN side has so far come in about $3 million short on the budget, with the Cambodian side failing to post $5 million.

Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong recently made a public appeal to foreign donors to help the budget, in a process that now could take as long as 2010.

Mussomeli said the US needed to make an assessment of the tribunal's administration before it would give direct assistance, to ensure the tribunal "is capable of meeting international standards."

Human Rights Party Vice President Keo Remy said the tribunal would have to show donors it is not corrupt if it expects to get more money.

The tribunal came under fire last year from allegations Cambodian judges had to pay kickbacks to government officials in order to sit in the courts.