Graft Talks To Continue Monday with Sok An: UN

With a budget crisis looming for the Cambodian side of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, UN Assistant Secretary-General for legal affairs Peter Taksøe-Jensen is scheduled to return to Phnom Penh to discuss anticorruption measures with Cab­inet Minister Sok An on Monday, the UN said in a statement on Wednesday.

However, Council of Ministers spokesman and Secretary of State Phay Siphan said Wednesday that no meeting was as yet scheduled. He said Thursday he was too busy to talk to a reporter.

Following a previous visit by Taksøe-Jensen in December, the UN and government announced a series of “joint sessions,” or discussions intended to develop a new anticorruption program at the court.

However, Cambodian administrators at the tribunal revealed earlier this month that they had rejected a UN proposal for a three-tiered mechanism to process allegations of irregularities.

In Wednesday’s statement, the UN office of legal affairs said high-level talks begun in December were to continue on Feb 23 and to concern “all issues related to the ECCC.”

“We expect that discussions will also focus on the work of the joint sessions, which are working to establish a mechanism to address the allegations of corruption,” the statement said.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said Thursday that paychecks for Cambodian staff for the month of February will be issued.

“For next month, we cannot confirm,” he said.

While 2009 funding for the court’s UN side is nearly complete, the Cambodian side has received no financial contributions since kickback allegations were reported in the middle of last year.

July paychecks for the court’s 200 Cambodian employees were withheld after the UN Develop­ment Program in August froze funding to the court.

The Cambodian side resumed payments that month using a $2.9 million Japanese contribution, which is now nearly exhausted.

“We’ve been through this kind of situation before. This is not something new for us,” Reach Sambath said.

“We are still optimistic that some donors will come through for us now that we’ve begun the most historic part of the trials.”

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