Sunday, January 11, 2009

Japan pledges more money for Khmer Rouge tribunal

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009
The Associated Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Japan will give an additional $21 million to the Cambodian genocide tribunal trying the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge, officials said Sunday.
The U.N.-backed tribunal is tasked with seeking justice for the atrocities committed by the communists during their four years in power in the late 1970s. The Khmer Rouge's radical policies caused an estimated 1.7 million deaths.

Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone pledged the money Sunday during a two-day visit to Cambodia, said Ieng Sophallet, a spokesman for Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The tribunal operates under both Cambodian and international law with Cambodian and foreign staff. It is under the joint administration of Cambodia and the U.N., which operate under separate budgets.

Japan's contribution is for the U.N. side of the operation.

The tribunal is mostly funded by donations from foreign donors and faces a budget crunch. The $56.3 million that was originally earmarked ran out because the tribunal had to recruit more staff and expand its work.

Japan is already the biggest contributor to the tribunal, having previously given more than $21 million for the U.N.'s operation. France, Germany and the United Kingdom are other big donors.

"Japan plays a very important role," said tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath. "The funds will be used transparently."

The pledge came two days after Cambodian judges denied paying kickbacks to government officials to secure jobs on the tribunal.

The judges were responding to a complaint filed by lawyers for Nuon Chea, one of five former senior Khmer Rouge leaders due to be tried by the tribunal on charges of crimes against humanity and other offenses. Allegations of corruption were first raised two years ago but were never publicly resolved.

The kickback dispute could further delay the tribunal's much-postponed first trial, which was slated to begin early this year.


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