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UN Prepared for More Tribunal Talks

A senior UN legal official is preparing to hold another round of talks with Cambodian officials in coming weeks, as the Khmer Rouge tribunal moves toward its first trial amid lingering corruption allegations.

A UN team is preparing to travel to Cambodia “in the coming weeks to follow up the meeting I had in December,” UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Peter Taksoe-Jensen told VOA Khmer Tuesday.

“We are going to discuss how the court is doing,” he said, declining to elaborate further.

The tribunal, which is preparing for the opening hearing in the trial of jailed prison chief Kaing Kek Iev, later this month, has struggled with allegations by Cambodian staff they paid kickbacks for their jobs. The UN has reviewed the allegations, but the findings have not been made public.

“We are looking at the first official proceeding of the court, which is good news, a step forward,” Taksoe-Jensen said. “But the issue we are going to discuss among ourselves, that is something that we do not think we discuss with the press.”

Taksoe-Jensen met with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in December 2008, as a tribunal task force agreed to strengthen management of the courts.

Corruption and mismanagement allegations caused some donors last year to freeze their funding of the tribunal.

Sources close the tribunal say the upcoming meeting will in part look at how to clear corruption charges for the confidence of hesitant donors.

Taksoe-Jensen declined to say whether his talks with Sok An were related to such funding.

“I am not going into the substance,” he said. “I fully understand that the donor countries are looking at the court, and thinking about how the court is dealing with the different issues before it.”