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K Rouge tribunal shakeup

Chief of personnel removed as court faces graft allegations

T

HE Cambodian chief of personnel at the Khmer Rouge tribunal was removed

from his post Monday as the court battles anew with allegations that

Cambodian staffers paid kickbacks to officials to secure their

positions at the UN-backed court.

"He was transferred back to the office of the Council of Ministers," court spokesman Reach Sambath the Post.

Keo Thyvuth was replaced by Rong Chhorng, secretary general for the

National Committee for Population and Development, who took office

Monday, Reach Sambath said.

"Everything is proceeding as usual," he said, before declining to give

further details of the transfer of a key official from the court's

embattled office of administration.

Peter Foster, spokesman for the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (UNAKRT), declined comment. 

Keo Thyvuth's shift, which court officials refused to call a firing,

comes as complaints of kickbacks are being examined by the UN Office of

Internal Oversight in New York.

Kickback accusations were first publicised in February 2007, but donors

froze funding to the court earlier this month in response to multiple

allegations leveled by Cambodian court staffers against more senior

officials.

As a result, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which has

managed more than US$7 million of court funds since 2006, halted

disbursement of money to the Cambodian side of the court. Cambodian

staffers' salaries have not been paid for the month of July.

The latest setback comes as the court's judicial side is finally making

progress. A closing statement from the office of the co-investigating

judges is expected imminently which will pave the way for the first

public trial to begin as scheduled in September.

Former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, more commonly know by

his revolutionary name Duch, is expected to be the first defendant to

be put on trial for crimes allegedly committed during the 1975-79

regime.

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