PHNOM PENH (AFP) — The United States will give its first donation to Cambodia's cash-strapped Khmer Rouge genocide trial as soon as the UN-backed court resolves corruption allegations, the US ambassador said Monday.
The tribunal faces a funding shortfall of more than 40 million dollars. Officials travelled to New York in June to petition UN members for more funds.
"The United States government is right now on the threshold of making its decision to directly fund the tribunal," outgoing Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli told reporters at his farewell press conference at the US embassy.
"I think in Washington now everyone is very much looking forward to finding funding to help directly assist the tribunal if we can just work this last thing out," he said.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal this month launched a new ethics monitor to grapple with ongoing claims of corruption within the court after the UN Development Programme made fresh allegations of kickbacks on the Cambodian side of the court, forcing international donors to withhold funding for July.
International backers have appeared hesitant to pledge more money to the process after earlier allegations of political interference and mismanagement, including that Cambodian staff paid money in exchange for their jobs.
But tribunal officials have said the allegations last year were "unspecific, unsourced and unsubstantiated."
The court is preparing for its first trial against Kaing Guek Eav, better known as "Duch," who ran a notorious torture centre in Phnom Penh.
He is expected in the dock in October, once the court has dealt with the prosecution's appeal of his indictment, which it said failed to present a "full and truthful account" of his crimes.
In all, five top Khmer Rouge leaders are now facing charges before the tribunal for crimes committed by the regime.
Up to two million people died of starvation, overwork and execution as the communist Khmer Rouge dismantled modern Cambodian society in a bid to forge an agrarian utopia during its 1975-1979 rule.
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