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Tribunal Jurists Meet Amid Nagging Woes

Khmer Rouge tribunal judges and prosecutors opened their fourth plenary session Monday, beginning a five-day session that will focus on the upcoming trial of Duch and questions of corruption still hounding the courts.

The national and international jurists were also set to discuss amendments to the internal rules of the tribunal for smoother proceedings and cooperation, officials told reporters Monday, as the meeting opened.

The tribunal's Supreme Court chief judge, Kom Srim, announced Monday that both sides of the UN-Cambodia hybrid tribunal face financial problems, but he said current funding would allow the completion of the first trial, of Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Kek Iev, better known as Duch.

Duch's case, for war crimes and crimes against humanity, is nearing the trial stage.

"One of the major issues that has been troubling for all the judges is that corruption within the ECCC," said international judge Sylvia Cartwright, referring to the tribunal by its official initials, for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

"These historic trials…must not be tainted by corruption," she said.

At least one Cambodian staff member of the tribunal complained of official kickbacks in June, a claim that is currently under review at the UN Oversight Office in New York and contributed to the freeze of $300,000 in funding to the courts.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath stressed on Monday that there was only an allegation, and that no case of corruption has been found.