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Tribunal Seeks More Than $90 Million for Two Years

Administrators for the Khmer Rouge tribunal are looking for an additional $93.3 million, to cover operations for the next two years, but donors have not immediately made pledges, officials from the UN and donor countries say.

The tribunal has completed the trial of prison chief Kaing Kek Iev, or Duch, despite nagging allegations of corruption and periods of under-funding. It is now moving toward the joint trial of four senior leaders.

A tribunal delegation led by chief administrator Tony Kranh and his deputy, Knut Rosanhaug, ended a week in New York Friday, where they had lobbied donors in meetings that demonstrated the progress of the court.

The court is seeking $46 million for 2010 and $47.3 million for 2011. Of that the UN component was budgeted at $34.5 million and $35.6 million, leaving $11.5 million and $11.8 million per year for the Cambodian side of the court.

A Japanese official at the UN told VOA Khmer the Permanent Mission there had received a budget proposal for 2010 and 2011 and was now considering it.

“Japan welcomes the progress achieved in Case 001 [for Duch],” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Around 20 countries took part in meetings at the UN headquarters in New York, but sources close to the proceedings said only a few had pledged any funding, with others expected to decide soon after the New Year holiday.

A UN spokesman for the tribunal in Phnom Penh, Lars Olsen, said donors had received the budget proposal.

“The donors expressed strong support for the [tribunal], so we are optimistic regarding the continuation of international support for donations,” he said.

The UN-backed court has come under criticism in recent months for apparent political interference, as six senior officials for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party have refused to comply with summonses from investigating judge Marcel Lemonde.

Prime Minister Hun Sen meanwhile has warned that further indictments such as five now under consideration could destabilize the country.

However, a tribunal statement said Friday a case against five more suspects, which were recommended by a UN prosecutor earlier this year, were part of the budget request.

A US State Department official said Friday the US was considering more funding for the court but is awaiting approval of Congress for the 2010 money. The tribunal had reached a “milestone,” the official said, in establishing an independent counselor to address corruption allegations and in successfully putting Duch on trial for atrocity crimes.

Another diplomat said the world financial crisis would weigh on countries as they decided whether and how much to fund the court.

Observers say the tribunal will not be allowed to fail by the UN, donors and Cambodia, especially now that it has begun to make progress.