Tuesday, February 07, 2006

U.N. office launches work in Cambodia for Khmer Rouge trial

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)PHNOM PENH, Feb. 6_(Kyodo) _ A permanent U.N. administrative office began work in Phnom Penh on Monday to help open the planned genocide trial of the Khmer Rouge leadership.

"I have very realistic hopes...we will make it happen," Michelle Lee, deputy director of the U.N. office, told reporters.

Lee arrived in Cambodia on Saturday and the work is expected to last three years.

"We've been waiting for a trial for a long, long time, for more than 25 years, so I hope that certain measures of justice can be achieved through this task," she said at the office about 15 kilometers west of the Cambodian capital.

Cambodia and the United Nations have not yet announced the names of the judges and prosecutors who will sit in the two courts -- the Trial Chamber and Appeal Court. But Lee said the U.N. side is finalizing a shortlist.

"On the U.N side, we are finalizing the short listing of the judges and a prosecutor. They have already gone for medical examinations, and as soon as we have all the medial clearance, the secretary general will submit the list to the royal government," she said.

The planned tribunal is intended to try Khmer Rouge leaders held responsible for the deaths of at least 1.7 million Cambodians in late 1970s.

According to the agreement between Cambodia and the United Nations, the Trial Chamber will have three Cambodian judges and two international judges, while the seven-judge Appeal Court will have four Cambodian judges and three foreign judges.

Although work on the tribunal is under way, there is still a shortage of funds from the Cambodian side.

Sean Visoth, head of the Cambodian team working for the trial, said that of $56.3 million needed for the three-year trial, $43 million for which the U.N. is responsible has been almost fully met, but Cambodia is still short of $9.6 million.

Only two senior Khmer Rouge figures are in custody -- former military commander Ta Mok and Kaing Khek Ieu. Three others -- Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan -- currently live freely in Cambodia.


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