Gov’t Proposes $40 Million Budget for KR Trial

The government has proposed a nearly $40 million budget for the long-awaited UN-assisted trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders, which it estimates will last three years, officials said Tuesday.

“The UN has studied the three-year plan, and we agree that the expenditure should be $40 million. The United Nations suggested that they will pay $20 million and the Cambodia side will pay the other $20 million,” Om Yen­tieng, adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen and tribunal task force member, said Tuesday.

The often strained, sometimes suspended, negotiations that began in 1997 produced an agreement in May between the world body and the government. It will give Cambodian judges a court majority over their international counterparts, but reserves the UN the right to withdraw.

The agreement is awaiting ratification by a new National Assem­bly, whose establishment has been stalled by the post-election deadlock between the three main political parties.

But government officials have called the approval of the Khmer Rouge trial agreement a priority for the next legislative session, and on Oct 20 the government’s tribu­nal task force briefed international diplomats on its proposed budget.

According to documents from that presentation, about $3.44 million would go toward materials and logistics, $7.25 million for facilities, $10.15 million for administrative staff, $8.4 million for security and support staff, $8.8 mil­lion for judges and lawyers costs and

$1.2 million would go toward public relations. The precise total is $39,230,000.

The UN will be wholly responsible for providing materials and logistics, and Cambodia will provide all security.

Chaktomuk Theater and the partly built conference center on Chroy Changva were named as likely venues for the tribunal.

Documents from the presentation to the diplomats stated that the legal procedure developed for the Sierra Leone Special Court is being considered as a probable source of the international law component for the Khmer Rouge trial.

The government, which relies on foreign aid for more than half of its budget, now must find the money to fund its share of the tribunal.

Australia, Britain, France, India, Japan, Russia and the US have all expressed interest in donating either personnel or funds.

But outgoing Japanese Ambas­sa­dor Gotaro Ogawa said Tuesday that Japan, which has promised a “substantial contribution,” will re­quire more specific numbers from the UN before it pledges anything.

Om Yentieng seemed undeterred by possible donor hesitation. “We don’t have to wait until we receive the funds. We will start when we have the new National Assembly, when we send the draft to be adopted,” he said.

A UN legal team is expected to arrive from New York this month to begin preparations for the judicial body that the government has dubbed the Extraordinary Chambers, Om Yentieng said.

Its trip will be financed by the Australian government, he added.

As for the suspects who will take the stand, Om Yentieng said it will be up to the Extraordinary Chambers to determine who of the surviving Khmer Rouge leaders will be tried for the disastrous social experiment unleashed during their 1975-79 regime.

“It is not our responsibility,” he said.

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