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UN expert arrives as US announces it might fund the ECCC

UN expert arrives as US announces it might fund the ECCC

David Tolbert is back in Cambodia, keeping an eye on the Extraordinary Chambers as the US mulls money for the financially troubled court

SPECIAL EXPERT

In April, the UN appointed American lawyer David Tolbert, former deputy prosecutor at the war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia, as “special expert” to the UN secretary general about the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

THE  UN's financial expert to the Khmer Rouge tribunal has arrived in Cambodia on what UN officials are calling a "private" visit to meet with donors and ramp up fundraising efforts for the ECCC.

Tolbert, whose previous visits have been to boost donor confidence in the wake of mismanagement claims, began work Monday and is expected to stay a week, UN spokesman Peter Foster said.

Tolbert was hired by the UN secretary general in April to review the world body's operations at the joint tribunal. His arrival comes as the US announced that it was on the "threshold" of making a decision to fund the struggling tribunal.

HE WILL BE MEETING WITH KEY PEOPLE FROM THE COURT [AND] THE LOCAL DONOR[S].

"He will be meeting with key people from the court, the local donor community, and will look at donor contributions and the progress made by the court," Foster said.
He described the visit as "strictly technical", however, and said Tolbert was under no jurisdiction from the UN Development Program.

An appointment for the US?

Tolbert, who couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday, was appointed after Kao Kim Hourn, a secretary of state with the Foreign Ministry, told the UN in January that Washington wanted an advisory role in the tribunal and would consider helping fund the court if given the post.

Kao Kim Hourn later retracted his statement, but the US embassy said that they were likely to meet with Tolbert, although were not sure when.

"We expect there will be an opportunity to speak with the Secretary General's advisor about his activities and the importance to donors of ensuring that advancement of administrative reforms in the ECCC match the judicial progress observed to date," said embassy spokesman John Johnson in an email Tuesday.

Outgoing US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said Monday that he thought the corruption issue "will be resolved ... and ultimately [the tribunal] will get funding".

Allegations that Cambodian staff were kicking back a portion of their salaries to higher officials are being reviewed by the UN's Office of Internal Oversight. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds have been frozen by the UNDP in the meantime.

The court has repeatedly faced bankruptcy and still faces a more than US$40 million shortfall.

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