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UN: Cambodia Agree Khmer Rouge Court Establishment

UN team, Cambodia agree on issues related to establishment of Khmer Rouge court

A United Nations team and the Government of Cambodia have agreed on a number of steps necessary to establish a court to try the aging former leaders of the Khmer Rouge.

The UN Technical Assessment Mission that went to Phnom Penh last week reported today that it had reached tentative agreement with the Government on a concept of operations, an outline of an implementation plan with timelines, a staffing table for the court's judicial and administrative component and the site where the trials would be held.

In May, the General Assembly authorized the UN to help Cambodia set up and run two Extraordinary Chambers in the new tribunal. One will be a trial court and the other will be a Supreme Court within the existing Cambodian justice system.

A UN spokesman said today that contrary to some reports in the Cambodian press, the UN team did not specify the number of potential indictees during last week's talks, nor was a list of names of potential indictees discussed.

"It would have been highly improper to do so, since it will be the prerogative of the investigative judges and the prosecutors of the future court to make that determination," spokesman Fred Eckhard said at a press briefing.

For the purpose of drafting a budget proposal, a range of five to 10 indictees was assumed by both parties, "but this figure could change depending on the investigative and prosecutorial strategy that the future court may wish to adopt," he added.

The team's report noted that two key conditions still had to be met before court activity could start, beginning with the appointment of judges and prosecutors. The Cambodian National Assembly has to convene to ratify the underlying agreement signed in June between the UN and the Government, and voluntary contributions to cover at least one year of operations and pledges to fund two additional years must be received.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan intends to launch an appeal for these contributions in early February once an operating budget for the court has been established, the report said.

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