Friday, September 30, 2005

France pledges judges and more funds for Khmer Rouge tribunal

Friday December 17, 14:58 PM

France will provide an additional €1 million (US$1.3 million) and two judges to help the United Nations organize a tribunal in Cambodia for surviving leaders of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, a French official said Friday.

Xavier Darcos, Minister Delegate for Cooperation and Development, said the new funding will add to the US$1 million (€755,058) already pledged by his government.

Darcos, who is currently on a three-day visit to Cambodia, said France regretted the delay in convening the tribunal.
"The remaining Khmer Rouge leaders are aging already and must be prosecuted," he said at a briefing Friday.
Khmer Rouge chief Pol Pot died in 1998. Several of his top lieutenants, aging and infirm, still live freely in Cambodia. Their four-year rule during the late 1970s was responsible for the death of some 1.7 million people from starvation, diseases, overwork and execution.

Cambodia and the United Nations sealed a Khmer Rouge tribunal agreement in June 2003, but Parliament only ratified the pact in October this year due to a long domestic political deadlock.
Last week, both sides agreed on a US$56.2 million (€42.4 million) budget for the tribunal, which is expected to operate for three years.

Mohammed Said, head of the U.N. delegation, said at the end of talks with Cambodian officials that the amount would be adequate but that funds would still have to be found.
He said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to call a fund-raising conference with donors later this month.

Australia has already pledged 3 million Australian dollars (US$2.1 million; €1.5 million). Japan has also promised to make voluntary contribution of US$3 million (€2.2 million) to the first year of the tribunal's activities.
Jerome Walter, an aide to Darcos, said his government will submit the names of two French judges to the United Nations to the tribunal "so that the process can start faster."


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