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Tribunal Delegation Seeks Funding in New York

A Khmer Rouge tribunal delegation left for New York on Friday in hopes of raising more funding for the cash-strapped Cambodian side of the UN-backed court.

The delegation of four will assist in a pledge meeting on May 25 to solicit promises of funding from donor countries.

The Khmer Rouge tribunal has already successfully tried one former regime leader, Kaing Kek Iev, the torture chief better known as Duch. It is now moving toward the trials of at least four more leaders: Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith.

But the Cambodian side of the hybrid court has been plagued with financial difficulties, alongside allegations of corruption and mismanagement. Cambodian staff saw reduced salaries in April as the budget crisis squeezed a side of the court that donors have been less interested in funding.

“The objective of the pledging conference is to secure the necessary funding both of the UN and Cambodian components of the [tribunal] for 2010 and 2011” tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen told VOA khmer.

In February, donors, officially known as the Group of Interested Countries, approved an $87 million budget for court operations this year and next. So far only the US, which contributed $5 million, has actually put in the money.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said the UN side can continue its operations through September, but the Cambodian side already owes its staff of 294 half their salaries for April and all of the salaries for May.

“It is a big concern,” he said, adding, though, that he had confidence in the donors.