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Cambodia bar association stance on fees threatens Khmer Rouge genocide trials

[JURIST] A meeting to sort out remaining differences over the rules governing the Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive] genocide tribunal in Cambodia [JURIST news archive] has been delayed after the Cambodian Bar Association (BAKC) refused to compromise on fees for foreign lawyers. The Bar Association has demanded that foreign defense counsel pay $4,900 to participate in the first year of hearings, despite protests from NGOs [JURIST report] and judges of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website]. These groups fear that the fees will discourage volunteer attorneys from offering their services and will prompt complaints that defendants have not been given a free choice of counsel. The ECCC has given the Bar Association until the end of the month to reconsider its position, at which point they may proceed without the association's input.

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; however, trials which were scheduled to begin in mid-2007 have been delayed for several months [JURIST report] due to disagreements over procedural rules. The Bar Association has blamed delays on the ECCC [JURIST report]. AFP has more.

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