Observers Warn of an Extended KR Tribunal

At a two-day Khmer Rouge tribu­nal conference that started Wed­nesday in Phnom Penh, parti­ci­pants expressed concern that the three years allotted for the trial will not be enough because of le­gal challenges that may be mounted over the length of pretrial de­ten­tion for former Khmer Rouge leaders.

Kek Galabru, founder of local hu­man rights group Licadho, said that half of the three years will be committed to the tribunal’s admin­is­trative work, leaving only a year and a half for the trials themselves.

“We are worried that the challenge from the defending lawyers will waste time,” she told the conference.

Former Khmer Rouge military chief Ta Mok and former Tuol Sleng prison commander Kaing Khek Ieu, better known as “Duch,” have been detained without trial since 1999.

“As you know, two people have been detained for some years now, Ta Mok and Duch,” said Da­vid Boyle, charge de mission of the International Federation of Hu­man Rights.

“The defense will undoubtedly at­­­tack that the detention was illegal and unconstitutional. It is un­clear at this state what exactly will happen,” Boyle added.

Participants also complained that Cambodia’s agreement with the UN to hold a Khmer Rouge tribun­al does not establish an international court and leaves the UN’s role as merely participatory.

Under the agreement signed by the UN and Cambodian government, pledges for the full $56 million tribunal budget must be se­cured and funding for the first year must be in the bank before the tribunal can go forward.

So far, only Japan, the largest donor at $21.5 million, and Aus­tra­lia, Britain and France, which do­nated a total of $5.2 million, have committed money to the tribunal.

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