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No Tribunal Adviser Could Hurt US Fund Bid, Experts Warn

The government's decision not to create a foreign advisory role within the Khmer Rouge tribunal could hurt the case for US funding, experts said Thursday.

"It affects the funding," said Hisham Mousar, a tribunal monitor for the rights group Adhoc. "If the government does not agree to allow a US citizen to open his office in Phnom Penh, the US will additionally consider whether to give funds or not."

Cambodia has declined to create a UN-proposed advisory position at a time when the tribunal needs another $114 million to prosecute jailed leaders of the Khmer Rouge.

An independent advisor could help promote the tribunal's transparency and make it more credible in the eyes of donors, experts said.

"The UN side wants a US citizen and the government side does not want other Americans to investigate on Cambodian soil, as it's enough to have the FBI," Hisham Mousar said. "There's no need for stronger domination from the US."

Coordinating the position through New York would be difficult, though an offer to coordinate through Phnom Penh has been made, he said.

The US has not yet agreed to directly aid in funding for the tribunal.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said the tribunal had "opened the door" for corruption investigation "many times."

UN officials were not immediately available for comment.