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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Report critiques trial pace

Report critiques trial pace


Says trial of Tuol Sleng chief Duch could drag on to 2010 if translation and other issues are not quickly addressed.

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Cambodians who have watched the morning proceedings leave the war crimes court on Wednesday.  

THE WAR crimes trial of former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav could drag on to 2010 if proceedings continue at their current pace, according to a court monitoring report posted online Tuesday evening that also highlights translation issues.

The delays are of particular concern in light of the court's precarious financial situation, which officials say will render the Cambodian side unable to pay staff salaries this month.  

"Despite efforts from [Trial Chamber] President Nil Nonn to move proceedings swiftly to the testimony forming the substantive part of the case ... the initial estimates of the trial completing in 12 weeks now seem somewhat unrealistic," states this week's version of the KRT Trial Monitor, a weekly wrap-up sponsored by the Asian International Justice Initiative and the East-West Centre.

"Given the Chamber is yet to hear an estimated 49 further witnesses, proceedings may continue till at least the end of 2009," the report reads.

The report cites translation issues as a key contributor to delays, describing them as "of a magnitude significantly greater and more troubling than previously experienced by other international justice institutions".

"At points, it was impossible for non-Khmer speakers to understand the meaning of exchanges between the judges and the accused person," it reads.  

The report also criticises the court for being slow to bring S-21 witnesses to the stand, noting that the trial was dominated by procedural arguments for much of the day on April 22 and adjourned early April 23 to consider outstanding motions.

"Although the accused began his testimony on the establishment of S-21 during Wednesday afternoon [of last week], after three weeks of trial the KRT is yet to hear any witnesses on S-21," it reads.

Ieng Sary at Calmette

Concerns about delays at the court come as Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary was admitted Wednesday to Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh for what court officials described as a routine medical check-up.

Court spokesperson Reach Sambath said the checkup was not conducted because of any "specific health concerns". Ieng Sary has suffered from an array of health problems  - including the appearance of blood in his urine - during his pretrial detention.

Brother No 2 Nuon Chea and former head of state Khieu Samphan will soon receive similar checkups, officials said.

Khmer Rouge victims and court observers have repeatedly expressed concern that the other four detained leaders, who are all older than Duch, will die before facing the dock if the court's operations aren't expedited.



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