Japanese Embassy Denies Approving Loan to KR Tribunal

The Japanese Embassy on Wednesday denied that it had approved a loan to the cash-strapped national side of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, contradicting a statement by a government spokesman on Tuesday.

“The Government of Japan doesn’t intend to contribute to the Cambodian side of the budget as it is the obligation of the Cambodian government to pay to the national side of the budget,” a statement released Wednesday by the Japanese Embassy states.

“However, Ambassador [Yuji] Kumamaru mentioned that the Government of Japan is considering if it can provide a part of the Japanese contribution to the international side earlier than originally scheduled in order to alleviate the current situation,” the statement continues.

Ek Tha, a spokesman at the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit who on Tuesday told reporters that Mr. Kumamaru had committed to giving a loan to the KRT in a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, declined to comment Wednesday on the opposing reports of what was decided during the meeting.

“All I can say is please stick to the Japanese statement,” Mr. Tha said.

The statement from the Japanese Embassy says that it was “regrettable” that “some newspapers reported that Japan agreed to redirect some amount of Japanese contribution to the U.N. side to the national side of the ECCC [Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia].”

“In this regard, the Embassy of Japan would like to clarify that it is incorrect to state that the Government of Japan agreed to provide funds to the national side of the budget, directly or indirectly,” the statement says.

With more than 130 national staff on strike over three months of unpaid wages, the U.N. has made calls in the past week for the government to fulfill its obligation to fund the national side of the tribunal.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia has the obligation under the U.N.-Cambodia Agreement to pay national staff salaries, but has failed to do so since May. We are very concerned about the possible risk of disruption to the judicial process through a strike by the national ECCC staff,” Lars Olsen, spokesman for the U.N. at the court, said on Sunday.

This week’s strike is the second time this year that national staff at the court has stopped working over unpaid salaries. The first strike was in March, when more than 30 court employees who had gone without pay stopped working.

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