Michelle Lee, the chief UN administrator for the Khmer Rouge trial, said Friday that she was optimistic that the $10.8 million funding needed by the Cambodian government for the tribunal would be secured soon.
But until that money is found, the trial will not get off the ground, Khmer Rouge Trial Administrative Director Sean Visoth said.
“There is only $1 million, from India, in the bank account now,” Sean Visoth told a news conference at the Council of Ministers. “That is not enough to renovate the [trial] premises and relocate the military from the headquarters,” he said.
Lee said that a number of countries have indicated that they are considering a favorable response to the Cambodian government’s request for funding to cover its financial obligations to the trial.
“We are hoping that this issue can be resolved within the coming weeks,” Lee told the news conference. “There are a few possibilities for delay, the shortfall is…the biggest challenge,” she said.
Lee said that she made funding appeals this week to representatives of Australia, Japan, Canada, France and Germany and hoped to meet with Denmark and India. She said that she also appealed to the US. “The US Ambassador told us he will do everything he can to get the US to contribute,” she added.
US Embassy spokesman John Daigle confirmed the appeal was made. “The Ambassador has said repeatedly that as long as the trial is real and not a show trial, he would work to get the US to contribute,” he said.
Lee also said that Friday was the final day of interviews for those international judicial officials hoping to make the tribunal short list. The list will be submitted to the Supreme Council of Magistracy later this month.
Dashing calls for the list of national judicial candidates be made public prior to selection, Sean Visoth said that he expected the final list of Cambodian judges and prosecutors to be announced by the council at the same time that the final list of international judges is released.
Sean Visoth also said that the government welcomes private donations from wealthy Cambodians here and abroad to make up the funding shortfall. “We have never rejected contributions from businessmen or from companies…The question is are they willing to contribute?” he asked.