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Defense Teams Urge Resolution to Tribunal Walkout

Cambodian military officials line up in front the top leaders of Khmer Rouge portraits, from right, former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, and former Deputy Secretary Nuon Chea, file photo.
PHNOM PENH - Defense lawyers at the Khmer Rouge tribunal say they want a resolution brought to the boycott of interpreters and translators at the UN-backed court.

In a statement issued Wednesday, defense lawyers for three former regime leaders said the work of the translators “enables us to defend our clients.”

The interpreters walked out ahead of a hearing more than a week ago, demanding they receive salaries that have gone unpaid since December.

Hearings for three jailed leaders—ideologue Nuon Chea, former head of state Khieu Samphan and former foreign minister Ieng Sary—have been halted, fueling concerns that the court will be unable to complete only its second trial since 2006.

“We regret the fact that staff whose daily work enables us to defend our clients have not been paid for more than three months,” the defense teams said in a statement.

The statement was signed by Ang Udom and Michael Karnavas, defense for Ieng Sary; Kong Sam On and Arthur Vercken, defense for Khieu Samphan; Son Arun and Victor Coppe, defense for Nuon Chea; and Mom Luch and Goran Sluiter, defense for the accused in Case 004.

The lawyers called for a quick resolution to the crisis free from threats to court staff that have been reported in the media.

Tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the court expects more funding from donors to help resolve this case and to pay other Cambodian staff who have also not received their salaries.

The latest administrative crisis comes as Ieng Sary remains in serious condition in the hospital, unable to eat rice or other solid food, Ang Udom told VOA Khmer Wednesday.