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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US expected to announce funding for KRT, officials say

US expected to announce funding for KRT, officials say

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Cash-strapped court faces bankruptcy at end of the year without an infusion of cash. Donors remain reluctant to give amid graft allegations

AFP

US deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte speaking at a press conference held in Hanoi at the weekend.

THE United States is expected to announce today details of a funding agreement for the Khmer Rouge tribunal, Cambodian and US embassy officials said Monday during a visit by US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte.

"We have had a positive agreement with the US about funding for the KRT," Prime Minister Hun Sen told reporters after he and Negroponte presided over a signing ceremony for US$24 million in funding for economic development projects.

"This is like a pregnant elephant that is going to give birth soon. We expect something good and strong to come out of this," he added.

Officials at the UN-backed court said they were unaware of any funding from Washington, which has been reluctant to commit any money to the process amid continuing allegations of graft on the Cambodian side of the court.

US embassy spokesman John Johnson did not comment on the agreement, adding that Negroponte "will reveal all information about funding from the US to the ECCC" later today.

IF ANY ONE SIDE OF THE ECCC HAS NO

BUDGET, THE COURT WILL NOT OPERATE.

An official who attended the ceremony said on condition of anonymity that Washington is expected to commit $1.8 million to the court, which is facing a funding shortfall of some $40 million over the next three years.
Court spokesman Reach Sambath said the UN side of thecourt will go broke in December if no additional money comes in.

"We are optimistic that the UN [side] will get more budget to support the staff," he told the Post Monday. "If any one side of the ECCC has no budget, the court will not operate ... it is like a bird with one wing that cannot fly."

The tribunal has most recently come under fire for allegations that Cambodian court staff were forced to pay part of their salaries to their bosses. Several complaints are being reviewed by the UN.

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