The administrative heads of the Khmer Rouge tribunal said Thursday that judges and prosecutors are expected to be in place by the first half of this year and that the long-awaited trial should commence in 2007.
“D-day is the day the international judges and prosecutors arrive and report for duty,” said Sean Visoth, the trial’s administration director.
“We expect the officials to be in place by the first half of this year,” Michelle Lee, the UN-appointed deputy director said.
“We expect the trial phase to commence next year,” she added.
Lee said the UN’s shortlisted prosecutors and judges are now undergoing medical examinations and will be forwarded to the Supreme Council of Magistracy soon.
The press conference was the first at the tribunal’s bare-bones new offices at RCAF headquarters in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district.
The UN and Cambodian teams moved into the 4-story administration building, which has computers but lacks telephones, on Monday.
The structure lies next to a 518-seat amphitheater, still covered in dust and surrounded by weeds, where surviving senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge will be tried.
In a joint-statement released at the conference, both sides said that they are not allowing a $9.6 million budget shortfall to stop the trial from proceeding.
Lee said that by Feb 15, the tribunal staff will know whether 29 donors to Cambodia have agreed to transfer UNTAC-era trust funds totaling $6.9 million to make up Cambodia’s budgetary shortfall. The UN Development Program currently holds the funds.
Sean Visoth also announced that Deputy Director of National Police Mao Chandara has been named the tribunal’s security chief.
Commenting on the age and poor health of the chief Khmer Rouge suspects, Sean Visoth said that until such time that the prosecutors release their list of suspects, no provisions will be made to ensure the health and security of former regime leaders.
“Now they are just regular people like everyone else,” he said.