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Khmer Rouge Victims Worry Over Tribunal Budget Woes

Representatives of victims of the Khmer Rouge say they are concerned about the future of the UN-backed tribunal, following a lackluster round of funding in New York last month.

Donors pledged about $17 million for expenses in 2010, money far short of the $85 million tribunal administrators say they need for 2010 and 2011.

“This is an issue that we are critically facing,” Nov Kassie, an official at the tribunal’s Victims Unit, told “Hello VOA” Thursday. “Whatever it is, a car or motorbike, can move if it has gasoline, but if it doesn’t, it’s impossible to work. Even though the donors have pledged this, frankly speaking, money has not been coming, and my unit has had a drought since January.”

Nov Kassie said plans for justice and reconciliation are stuck, and with no salaries, the operation has been based on the borrowing of money from one place to another. There is no more money to borrow, he said.

Chum Mey, who survived the Khmer Rouge torture center Tuol Sleng and now heads an association of victims, said he too was facing money shortages. This may hamper his ability to bring victims to the court for the reading of a verdict against Tuol Sleng’s former chief, Kaing Kek Iev, or Duch, on July 26.

Members are now considering what to do next, especially if Duch is given a reduced sentence, Chum Mey said.