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UN chief legal counsel urges financial support for Cambodia genocide tribunal

[JURIST] The Chief Legal Counsel [official website] to the UN, Under-Secretary-General Patricia O'Brien [official profile, PDF], and Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said Monday that the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] needs financial support from the international community. In a joint statement [text; UN News Centre report], O'Brien and Sok expressed concern about the financial situation of the UN-backed tribunal charged with trying alleged Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] war criminals, but also emphasized the great success that the tribunal has had:

The ECCC has confirmed its ability to conduct complex international criminal trials to international standards, and is living up to the hope for it to be a model court. The proceedings have attracted unprecedented interest and support, as witnessed by the fact that over 30,000 Cambodians have attended the court proceedings since its inception.

As of December, UN member countries had contributed [financial report] nearly $77 million in support of the Khmer Rouge trials. The ECCC's approved budget [ECCC materials] for 2010-2011 amounts to $87.1 million, of which $42.9 million is for 2010 and $44.2 million is for 2011. The international component of the ECCC budget is $65.4 million, of which $32.2 million is for 2010 and $33.2 million is for 2011.

In December, the ECCC charged [JURIST report] former Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Thirith [Trial Watch profile; case materials] with genocide, torture, and persecution, adding to previous charges that include war crimes and murder. Ieng Thirith, the wife of ECCC defendant Ieng Sary [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive], served as social affairs minister for the regime. Ieng Thirith is the fourth former official to be charged with genocide. Also in December, the ECCC brought genocide charges against former head of state Khieu Samphan, former deputy leader and chief ideologist Nuon Chea, and former foreign minister Ieng Sary [JURIST reports] in connection with the same events. In November, the court heard final arguments [JURIST report] in its first trial, that of Kaing Guek Eav [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive], also known as "Duch." Kaing was the first of eight [JURIST report] ex-Khmer Rouge officials to be tried before the ECCC. Members of the Khmer Rouge allegedly killed 1.7 million people between 1975 and 1979.

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