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Groups: Tribunal Budget Deadline Nigh

The Khmer Rouge tribunal is facing a time and money crunch that could make trials difficult, two rights groups warned Tuesday.

"There is enough budget for the salaries of the international members for the whole year in 2008. But the Cambodian personnel who are working at the Khmer Rouge tribunal will run out of money in the next few months," said Seng Theary, executive director of the Center for Social Development. "If the Khmer Rouge tribunal has no budget, the tribunal will not be able to dispense salaries for the personnel. When the personnel have no salary, we are concerned that the court might stall."

Observers worry the tribunal will run out of funds before all five jailed Khmer Rouge leaders are tried, in proceedings the Cambodian foreign minister has said could run into 2012.

A budget shortfall has made the trial of five jailed former Khmer Rouge leaders more difficult, said Hisham Moussar, a legal expert monitoring the tribunal for the rights group Adhoc.

The tribunal's mandate only has a year and a half remaining, he said, "a short time."

"And if the time is short and the money is not there on time, it will be more difficult for the trial of the five people," he said.