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KRT running on empty

By the end of June, funding for the international side of the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal will have run out, adversely affecting the ability of the tribunal to pay the salaries of staff, officials said yesterday.

Legal affairs spokesman Lars Olsen said it was a “very serious situation”.

“By the end of June, the UN side runs out of money,” he said. “Out of a budget of $44 million [for 2012-2013] there remains $28 million that has not been pledged.

“The court has faced financial challenges before, but this is a very serious situation.”

If the international side runs out of money, it will not be able to pay staff salaries, Olsen added.

Earlier this year, the Post reported on the national side of the tribunal facing similar budget woes.

Until March, Cambodian staff at the tribunal had not been paid since the previous year, with Cambodian judges having not received salaries since October 2011.

Staff from the pre-trial chamber and prosecution said they would be forced to walk away from the tribunal and seek other jobs unless they were paid, press officer Neth Pheaktra said at the time.

In a budget meeting in New York in February, representatives from Australia, Cambodia, the European Union, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom committed funds to the court, but only Australia and Japan allocated funds to the international side.

When asked about the consequences for Case 002, now under way, Olsen declined to speculate, but pointed to the problems faced by the Cambodian side during salary shortfalls.

“The court is funded only by voluntary donations,” he said.

Compared to similar tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, the Khmer Rouge tribunal runs at an extremely low cost.

Since the tribunal began operations in 2006 until the beginning of 2012, it had spent a total of $149.9 million, with $34 million allocated to the Cambodian side and $115 million to the international side.

The court for Rwanda regularly has an annual budget in excess of the total spent on the Cambodian court.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at bridget.dicerto@phnompenhpost.com

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