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Tribunal Staff Wait for Frozen Funds

The UNDP has so far not replied to a request to release funding for the Cambodian side of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, which is in danger of running out of money by the end of the month, a spokesman for the special court said this week.

The Cambodian side of the tribunal is trying to negotiate with UNDP for the release of $750,000 in frozen funding to pay salaries for more than 200 staff members, tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said Monday.

The funding was frozen in 2008, following allegations of corruption in the tribunal the previous year, and a potential shortage of funds now comes as the tribunal is preparing for its first ever trial, of prison chief Kaing Kek Iev, March 30.

The UNDP is the agency in charge of managing funds provided by donor countries to the Cambodian side of the hybrid court.

The UNDP said in an e-mailed statement Thursday it was working with donors, the UN side of the tribunal and with the UN office in New York to deal with the funding “and ensure that the court can continue its important work.”

The funds under UNDP management remain frozen, but other funding is available to the court for continued operation, the UN development agency said.

Last year, more than 200 Cambodian staff went without their salaries for two months.

The Cambodian staff members are now awaiting resolution from the UN as funding dries up for March, Reach Sambath said.

“We are still waiting for the funds, and we expect the question will be resolved, because now we are busy on preparation for Duch’s trial,” he said.

The question of corruption has continued to hound the tribunal, which has detained five former leaders of the Khmer Rouge for atrocity crimes trials.

A UN legal delegation met with Council Minister Sok An last month, when the two sides agreed on a parallel system for dealing with corruption complaints.