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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ECCC says no pay for nationals

ECCC says no pay for nationals

Judge says insufficient funding has left Cambodian side insolvent.

A JUDGE at the Khmer Rouge tribunal has announced that Cambodian staff will not receive their salaries this month, as donor funds dry up amid concerns of corruption.

Kong Srim, president of the tribunal's Supreme Court chamber, told participants and media at the opening of the judge's fifth plenary Monday that the court's long-standing funding problems would now materialise into bankruptcy.

"Unfortunately, the national side of the court will not have sufficient funds for the staff salaries for this month," he said.

"I see this as our most important challenge, as it hardly seems reasonable for judicial officers and staff to be expected to continue working without remuneration," he added.

He said, however, that he was confident the problem would be resolved "before such a situation arises".

Trial chamber Judge Silvia Cartwright, speaking after Kong Srim, said resolving the issue of corruption is the only way to quash donor concerns.  

"The problems mentioned by [Kong Srim] concerning funding can be resolved once the international community is confident of a corruption-free environment in which to hold trials," she said.

"International judges have said clearly and repeatedly that they will not allow corruption to interfere with the tribunal's delivery of justice for the people of Cambodia," she added.

The UN Development Program, which was administering donor funds to the Cambodian side of the court, decided to withhold funding after allegations arose in July, leaving hundreds of staff members without salaries for two months.

To date, neither side of the court has confronted previous allegations, and a review made in September by a UN oversight body has yet to be made public.

Court spokesperson Reach Sambath was unsure whether the more than 200 Cambodian staff would continue to work unpaid again.

"It's too early to say.... Our greatest concern is the translators. If it affects translators, it affects the whole court," he said.

The court began its first trial last month, with testimonies to start after March 30. 

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