June 24, 2008 / 11:06 AM / 11 years ago

Cambodia's "Killing Fields" court trims budget

PHNOM PENH, June 24 (Reuters) - Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge tribunal has cut its proposed budget to $143 million instead of $170 million sought from donors, and brought its expected end date forward by a year to 2010, officials said on Tuesday.

The joint Cambodian-U.N. court set up to try Pol Pot’s top surviving henchmen for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people under the Khmer Rouge had an initial budget of $56 million, and was expected to run for three years.

But after delays in getting it off the ground, followed by seemingly endless bail hearings, appeals and pre-trial machinations, it quickly became apparent the court would be broke before any of the ageing cadres faced justice.

Presenting the revised budget extension, Cambodia’s top official to the court, Sean Visoth, said he was "quite optimistic" foreign donors would come up with the cash.

He also said the court’s first full trial, that of Duch, the ultra-Maoist guerrilla movement’s chief jailer and executioner, would start in September.

Five top Khmer Rouge officials have been charged with war crimes or crimes against humanity and placed under detention, including Duch and Pol Pot’s right-hand man, Nuon Chea, also known as "Brother Number Two". (Reporting by Ek Madra, Editing by Ed Cropley and Sanjeev Miglani)

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