US pledges $1.8 million to Khmer Rouge trials

September 16th, 2008 - 3:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Phnom Penh, Sep 16 (DPA) The United States has decided to finance the upcoming trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders, pledging $1.8 million for the next year with the promise of more to come, US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said Tuesday.Wrapping up his three-day official visit with a press conference, Negroponte said the US government was impressed with the progress of the joint UN-Cambodian tribunal, despite allegations of graft.

“We expect to be active amongst donors to see (the tribunal) continues,” he said.

“I stress again this is an initial contribution,” Negroponte said. “In future fiscal years we hope to make further contributions and hopefully even increase them.”

But he warned that US involvement would involve scrutiny of the process, including allegations that Cambodian staff were paying kickbacks for their positions.

“We will spare no effort to ensure not only our resources but the international community’s as a whole will be best utilized.”

He said the progress made in arresting five former leaders of the 1975-79 regime - under which up to 2 million Cambodians perished - plus the expected November start of the first trial against former jailer Kaing Guek Eav, aka Duch, helped convince the US Congress to approve the funding.

The US earlier refused to contribute to the tribunal, citing a congressional reluctance and a need to see progress first.

“We believe conditions are both appropriate and opportune to make this contribution now,” Negroponte said.

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