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Tribunal Jurists To Discuss Road Ahead

Prosecutors and judges of the Khmer Rouge tribunal will meet next week in a plenary session to consider how to proceed in coming weeks, with five leaders in detention, one ready for trial and a number of complications ahead.

"They will go over the general progress of the courts," UN tribunal spokesman Peter Foster said Thursday. "They will discuss the opening of the trial chamber and the arrival of those judges, and they will discuss any changes or experiences with the internal rules as they are now written, and perhaps suggest some revisions."

The meeting, which will last from Monday to Friday, will center around "how they are going to proceed in the coming month," he said.

The judges and prosecutors, collectively known as jurists, will also discuss technical aspects of a new court room, an audio-visual system, translation and interpretation, Foster said.

The meeting comes as the tribunal is facing a funding crisis, as it seeks to increase its mandate through 2010 and has been hampered by allegations of kickbacks and mismanagement.

UNDP has halted $300,000 in funding to the courts, as donors consider whether and how much they will continue to contribute.

"First of all, we can note the corruption within the [tribunal]," said Long Panhavuth, a tribunal monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative. "Secondly, there is no coherence of work between international and national jurists. And third is transparency and that people do not get enough access to information on the court related to the progress of the court."

These concerns will have to be resolved, he said.

The tribunal has completed most of the pre-trial proceedings against Tuol Sleng prison chief Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, and had hoped to begin a trial by September.

Prosecutors, however, have appealed for a redrafting of the investigating judges' closing order, which includes indictments, for Duch.

Hisham Mousar, a tribunal monitor for the rights group Adhoc, said Thursday the jurists must settle some of the challenges facing them, including the continued participation of civil parties.

"We think that the participation of civil parties makes for a more complicated procedure," he said. "They will discuss this issue because there are many problems related to it in the Pre-Trial Chamber."