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Cambodia: agreements ahead of Khmer Rouge trials

UN and Cambodia sign key agreements ahead of Khmer Rouge trials

The United Nations and Cambodia’s Government today signed agreements putting in place the legal foundations for the administrative set-up and operations of the Extraordinary Chambers to try Khmer Rouge leaders, accused of horrific crimes, including mass killings, during the 1970s.

A UN spokesman said the two agreements established the “last legal instruments needed on the logistics and administrative side before the trials take place.”

“One of the agreements signed today concerns supplementary arrangements on the facilities, utilities and services the Cambodian Government would provide for the premises of those Chambers; the other deals with safety and security arrangements,” Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

Earlier this month, Secretary-General Kofi Annan submitted a list of international judges and other legal experts to Cambodia’s Prime Minister to serve in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed During the Period of Democratic Kampuchea.

A 2003 agreement between the UN and Cambodia’s Government provides for a Trial Chamber, composed of three Cambodian judges and two international judges, and a Supreme Court Chamber, composed of four Cambodian judges and three international judges. It also called on the Secretary-General to provide a list of not less than seven nominees.

The agreement provides that these five international judges will be appointed by the Supreme Council of the Magistracy of Cambodia, and Mr. Annan also asked Cambodia’s Prime Minister to transmit his nominations to that Council.

Under an agreement signed by the UN and Cambodia, the trial court and a Supreme Court within the Cambodian legal system will investigate those most responsible for crimes and serious violations of Cambodian and international law between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979.

The three-year budget for the trials is about $56.3 million, of which $43 million is to be paid by the UN and $13.3 million by the Government of Cambodia.

At last year’s pledging conference to support the UN assistance to the trials, Mr. Annan said that the crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge rule “were of a character and scale that it was still almost impossible to comprehend,” adding that “the victims of those horrific crimes had waited too long for justice.”

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