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Tribunal Officials Begin Talks With Interpreters After Walkout

Buddhist monks and other people sit at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, file photo.
PHNOM PENH - Khmer Rouge tribunal officials began negotiations on Tuesday with translators at the UN-backed court who walked out at the beginning of a hearing on Monday.

The 28 translators have not been paid since December, as the court struggles to find funding from donors, and they say they will not work until they receive at least part of their salaries.

The surprise walkout on Monday halted proceedings at the court, which operates in English, French and Khmer, as it undertakes an atrocity crimes trial of three former Khmer Rouge leaders.

“This is the fault of the court, which does not have the means to pay us,” one of the translators told VOA Khmer, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Monday’s walkout is the first to come since nearly 300 Cambodian staff began to call for their salaries, but it is unclear if other staff members will similarly strike.

Tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra said members of the translation unit agreed to resume work in exchange for their December salaries, but that they want a new contract starting April 1. After that, they want their salaries for January and February, or they will boycott again, he said.

The court hopes to pay them from a contribution of $300,000 expected from the European union, which is coming soon, he said.