Saturday, October 01, 2005

Cambodia urges U.N. to speed up Khmer Rouge trial fundraising

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 7 Kyodo - Cambodia urged the United Nations to speed up fundraising to open the planned tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge leaders as the country marked the 26th anniversary of the Khmer Rouge government's demise Friday.


In a ceremony attended by about 10,000 people including foreign diplomats, Chea Sim, president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, said Cambodians hope the United Nations will be able to find a way so those responsible for crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-1979 rule will be punished.


''The Cambodian people hope and believe that the United Nations, which plays a key role in this process of seeking justice for the victims of the genocidal regime, will solve this last stumbling block so that the Extraordinary Chamber for trying those who were responsible for the crimes that took place during the Democratic Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge) regime can function in a timely manner,'' he said.


Last month, the United Nations and
Cambodia finalized the budget for the three-year tribunal, with the United Nations to spend $43 million and Cambodia covering the remaining $13 million.


So far,
France and Japan have expressed willingness to donate $1 million and $3 million, respectively, for the first year of the tribunal, while Australia has pledged $2.1 million.


Government sources said U.N. officials recently met with donor countries on the budget issue, but pledges for sufficient amounts were not made.


Chea Sim, who presided over the ceremony, said that the Jan. 7 Victory Day ''brought an end to the darkest chapter of history and gave a second life, rights and freedom to the Cambodian people.''


The Khmer Rouge government was toppled
Jan. 7, 1979, and its leaders are blamed for the deaths of at least 1.7 million Cambodians.


''We cannot close this darkest historical chapter totally unless justice is rendered for the victims of the
genocidal regime,'' Chea Sim said.


Public and private TV broadcasters aired documentary films and dramas on the killing fields and brutalities committed by the Khmer Rouge.


After six years of negotiations,
Cambodia and the United Nations signed an agreement in June 2003 to set up the tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge leaders on charges of genocide.


All three surviving top Khmer Rouge leaders, Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, are in their late 70s and live freely in the country. Supreme Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998.

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