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Norway Pledges $1 Million to Tribunal

An overview of the U.N.-backed court, Monday, June 29, 2009, in Phnom Penh, file photo.

The government of Norway has pledged $1 million to the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal.

That makes it the first country to make a pledge since a new budget was approved by donors for the financially distressed court.

The tribunal is currently in the midst of a trial of two aging Khmer Rouge leaders, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, but it has been plagued with financial shortages for months.

Tribunal officials welcomed the pledge on Tuesday. But it is only a small part of the $60.5 million needed by the court to continue operating.

The Norwegian money was pledged to the international side of the court, but the Cambodian side still needs funding, tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra said.

“We hope that other donors will continue to fund the court, especially the national side, which is facing a shortage of funds in its work, particularly in workers’ salaries,” he said.

Latt Ky, a tribunal monitor for the rights group Adhoc, said he remains concerned about overall financing for the court.

“If the donors fund only the international side, the problems will recur, like no salaries for national staff, demonstrations, boycotts from work, and so on,” he said.

Meanwhile, the court has continued to function. It is preparing for the second phase of its trial of Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, on charges of atrocity crimes, including genocide.

And on Tuesday the court announced it had assigned a lawyer to an unnamed suspect in a potential third case—though no indictments in that case have yet been handed down.