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Tribunal Seeks To Explain Salary Woes to Staff

Police officers line up to attend a hearing of former Khmer Rouge leaders at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, file photo.
PHNOM PENH - The administration of the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal issued a letter to disgruntled Cambodian staff on Wednesday, seeking to explain why they had not been paid for December and to avert a walkout later this week.

Nearly 100 of 300 Cambodian staff members are still upset by their lack of salaries and have said they will walk off the job at the end of the month if they are not paid.

The threat comes as the court attempts to try three Khmer Rouge leaders—Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary—for atrocities committed by the regime under their leadership. It is only the second case the tribunal has put to trial, despite its establishment in 2006 and an expenditure of some $150 million.

But court officials say they have received no new pledges for donors that would help them pay the salaries, and what money has come so far is only enough for water, electricity and the Victims Support Section.

That money has come from a German pledge and the Cambodian government, for a total of only $2.5 million of the estimated $9.3 million needed by the Cambodian side of the hybrid court for the rest of the year.

Tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra said administrators were trying to calm down staff members, but that the arrival date of any new funding is not known.

“We don’t know how long it will take,” he said.

Last week, Cabinet Minister Sok An, who oversees the tribunal for the government, met with Australian and Japanese diplomats, seeking more funding. None was immediately forthcoming.