During a press conference at the ECCC Wednesday, Deputy Director of Administration Knut Rosandhaug told reporters he was satisfied with the court's progress -- and that he's planning to stay.
Contrary to a public perception that has been fueled by the media, he said, "I'm very happy working at the court." Rosandhaug said he had recently renewed his contract for an additional year.
The press conference marked the start of a new public affairs effort at the tribunal. Recently-appointed Chief of Public Affairs Reach Sambath told reporters that each Wednesday the press office will make a various set of court officials available for questioning.
Rosandhaug, who joined the tribunal around a year ago, has, perhaps inadvertently, been dragged into the ongoing debate about corruption at the court. A much-publicized report from a German parliamentary delegation that visited Cambodia this fall quoted Rosandhaug saying corrupt practices "impeded" the work of the court.
Rosandhaug had no comment for press about the German report.
At Wednesday's conference he fielded questions alongside Tony Kranh, Acting Director of Administration at the tribunal. Kranh is filling in for Sean Visoth, who has been implicated in corruption allegations and, incidentally, has also been on sick leave for a number of months.
Kranh refused to elaborate on whether Sean would return to work at the court. He said the Administration Director was on leave without pay and that he didn't want to "discuss personal matters."
Despite some of the controversy surrounding the ECCC, Rosandhaug told reporters he was "satisfied with the substantive progress at this tribunal" and that he thought the process was "quite swift and efficient."
He speculated that Comrade Duch's trial would conclude in the second half of 2009, and that proceedings against the other defendants would launch in 2010.
Overall, I feel the weekly press conference initiative will be positive for communication at the court, even though neither Rosandhaug nor Kranh seemed particularly enthusiastic about talking to media. At the same time, I know many journalists there would have appreciated more time with the administration heads -- they were ushered out before a number of questions could be asked.
While the answers to questions that were posed were characteristically opaque, at least reporters had an opportunity to ask them.
In other court news, Khmer Rouge scholar Craig Etcheson's testimony was delayed yet again due to wrangling over tedious trial management issues.
* Pictured: Knut Rosandhaug (above); Acting Director of Administration Tony Kranh (at right).