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More money, less media please, say KRT


Back from hospital:

Ieng Sary and Nuon Chea

 

Former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary was back at

the Extraordinary Court

in the Chambers of Cambodia (ECCC) jail after a 15-day stay at Calmette

hospital described by a court official as too expensive but necessary.

Sary, 82, was discharged from the hospital March 6 “after

the doctors found that there is no life threat against him,” said Reach

Sambath, spokesman for the ECCC.

He was admitted to Calmette hospital on February 20 for the

second time since his arrest in November last year.

TANG CHHIN SOTHY/ AFP

Police escort the convoy of Duch as it leaves Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh on February 27.

Sambath said he could not disclose how much money the court

is spending on Sary’s health care but commented that it was too expensive. He

said the expenditure for health care for the five KR leaders in jail is the

responsibility of the administration of the ECCC, which signed a memorandum of

understanding with Calmette hospital last year before the aging leaders were

arrested.

 

“It is a very necessary mission,” Sambath said. “We cannot

reveal the figure on how much we spend on each individual but it is our

obligation and duty to fulfill in order to ensure the accused persons stay

healthy and can defend themselves during the trial process.”

The ECCC administration is asking donors to fund an expanded

24-hour health care clinic at the court for the defendants as part of its

latest $114-million additional budget request.

KR defendant Nuon Chea went to Calmette on March 5 for an

examination but returned to the ECCC the same day.

 

 

Court threatens media

with ‘life ban’

 

Taking former S-21 prison chief Duch back to the torture

prison he headed 30 years ago was bound to attract attention. Sure enough, the

media turned out in force on February 26 and 27 desperate for a glimpse – or

better yet a photo – of 62-year-old Kaing Khek Iev, alias Duch, who was taking

the court’s judges and witnesses on a walk-through of Tuol Sleng and then the

Killing Fields at Cheung Ek

The intriguing photos didn’t materialize. Except for a

two-man French documentary team given access under a special arrangement with

the court, police blocked the roads and told guesthouses in the area to keep

everyone out. A Post photographer who

entered the area before police barricades were set up was detained for two

hours by police, who deleted her photos.

Other media members were threatened with a “life ban” on

covering the court if they published photos of the event.

Security at the events was under the control of the Ministry

of Interior, said the tribunal’s UN spokesman Peter Foster. All actions were

“based on the supplementary agreement on safety and security,” he said.

The court allowed the French team to make a documentary in

keeping with the court’s broader “pedagogical and archive objectives.” The

court refused to divulge whether or not the film will be commercially

distributed but said it would be released only after all the trials and appeals

are completed, and that control of confidential material filmed remains with

the court.

Filmmakers Jean Reynaud, a lawyer, and Remi Laine “did not

pay the ECCC or anyone to be allowed to complete this work,” the court said in

a statement. “There is therefore no question of certain press accessing

investigative work and others not.”

Asked about it by the Post,

co-investigating judge Marcel Lemonde objected to all the fuss, saying that

“the focus on the media access has drawn attention away from the central

objective, and indeed success, of the reconstruction. It was very important

that it took place in a judicially correct and calm environment.”

Lemonde said the re-enactment evidence will be used at trial

later this year.

 

 

 

Less secrecy, more

funding

 

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal is shrouded in secrecy, rapidly

running out of funds and lacking leadership. So says the latest report from the

Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), a New York-based watchdog organization.

The report, released late last month, cites three “immediate

challenges” facing the tribunal: the appointment of a “special advisor,” a lack

of transparency and money woes.

OSJI says the appointment of a special advisor “is essential

if the administrative, budgetary and leadership problems facing the ECCC are to

be adequately addressed.”

Phnom Penh Post photographer Tracey Shelton had her photos of the Duch re-enactment deleted by police and was detained for two hours February 27. Her shots would have appeared here.

 

OSJI was very critical about a lack of transparency in the

appeal case of Brother No. 2 Nuon Chea, whose lawyers filed an application to

disqualify Judge Ney Thol, one of three Cambodian judges on the ECCC’s

Pre-Trial Chamber.

The defense lawyers said Judge Ney Thol’s position as a

serving military officer and his participation in “highly questionable judicial

decisions would lead a reasonable observer, properly informed, to reasonably

apprehend bias” against Nuon Chea and the Khmer Rouge and in favor of the

Cambodian Peoples’ Party.

On February 4, the pre-trial chamber rejected the

application. OSJI says the “disqualification, the response, and the reply have

not been made public.” The lack of disclosure of the documents and arguments

pertaining to the ruling is not helping the credibility of the ECCC, says OSJI.

The report concludes that the court does need more funding

and that donors should fund the court but only if certain conditions, including

the appointment of a special advisor and better transparency, are implemented.

 

 

ECCC report bolsters

case for more funding

 

Still apparently hoping for another big donation to fund the

Cambodian side of the court for the last eight months of 2008, the ECCC

released a two-month-old, 47-page report to public on the state of spending.

The December 31 report explains how the Cambodian side of

the court got to where it is now with a $4.71-million “shortfall” for 2008. “So

far there has been no additional financial commitment made from other donors to

fill the gap,” it notes.

It turns out that although many international donors (not

the US) signed on to fund the $43-million budget for the UN side of the court,

the $13-million budget for the Cambodian side was in trouble from the start.

The lack of contributions forced the UN finally to suggest

reallocating money from UN trust funds that had been established for Cambodia back

in the UNTAC days of 1990-93. Exactly how much was tapped from those funds is

not clear.

About half a dozen outright contributions were made to the

Cambodian side. The European Commission kicked in $1.2 million. India

contributed $1 million for staff and premises. Thailand gave $24,000 solely for

landscaping. Germany

transferred $57,000 from the other UN trust fund. Japan paid $45,000 for the ECCC

jail. Netherlands paid

$13,000 for training, and New Zealand

and Switzerland

also gave $2,700 for training.

The Royal government of Cambodia agreed to contribute $1.5

million for the three years. But as of December 31, the Ministry of Economy and

Finance still owed a third of that amount and there was no comment from ECCC

whether that half million has been handed over.

An ECCC spokesman said only that the revised budget proposal

asking for another $114 million for the court to operate through 2010 awaits

donor approval.

“They are now in the process of reviewing it and we remain

confident that the ECCC will receive the funds it requires to complete our

important mandate,” he said.

 

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