Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke out for the first time in public yesterday about former Khmer Rouge tribunal defendant Ieng Sary’s death, expressing worries over the court’s budget and the advanced age of the remaining two accused.
He said he had voiced his concerns in a recent meeting with representatives from the European Union and the British Embassy.
“For the trial of Khmer Rouge leaders, we expressed our joint concern while we met separately a few weeks ago, because, firstly, the court is facing budget shortages, and secondly, the accused persons are old,” Hun Sen said to the approximately 500 government officials, civil society and private sector representatives at an inauguration of the National Council on Green Growth.
“Recently, Ieng Sary died, and if the trial remains delayed, this issue will be [the same as Sary].”
Hun Sen joins a growing chorus of voices from all levels of society fretting over the state of the tribunal, where the two remaining defendants, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, are in their 80s, and a national side budget shortfall recently caused a number of staffers to boycott proceedings.
A total of 150 civil parties attending a regional workshop in Battambang province issued a statement last week, urging the UN and the Cambodian government to collaborate and help the tribunal complete its work.
Neth Pheaktra, spokesman at the ECCC, said that the tribunal lacked approximately $7 million to pay Cambodian staffers.
“We are concerned the lack of budget would bar the proceeding of the trial,” he said.