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NGOs urge Cambodia bar association to drop fees for genocide trial participation

[JURIST] A coalition of NGOs appealed to the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) Monday, urging it to reconsider its requirement that participating international lawyers in the Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive] genocide trials join and pay a membership fee. The question of fees was left unresolved after judges appointed to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] reached agreement [JURIST report] Friday on the most pressing points of contention over the Khmer Rouge genocide trial rules [2006 draft rules, PDF] after a 10-day meeting [JURIST report; press release, PDF]. The ECCC has already called [press release, PDF] the fees "unacceptable" as severely limiting "the right of accused and victims to select counsel of their choice." If the issue is not resolved, the ECCC judges may boycott a plenary meeting to finalize the rules. The trials were scheduled to begin in mid-2007 before being delayed for several months [JURIST report] due to disagreements over the rules governing the trials.

Cambodia's 1975-79 Khmer Rouge [MIPT backgrounder] regime was responsible for the deaths of over 1.7 million people from genocide, disease and malnutrition. The ECCC was created to investigate and prosecute instances of human rights violations by a 2001 agreement between Cambodia and the UN. Prosecutors are expected to indict about 10 defendants, including Kang Khek Leu [Trial Watch profile] and other surviving top Khmer Rouge leaders. AP has more.

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