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Cambodia genocide court judges still split on procedure after latest talks

[JURIST] Officials at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia [official website] said Friday that after two weeks of renewed discussion of the procedural rules to govern the trials of Khmer Rouge suspects accused of involvement in the "killing fields" genocide of the 1970s, "several major issues" remain unresolved. The tribunal did say, however, that "solid" progress had been made in the latest round of talks involving the Cambodian and foreign judges [list] who will take part in the proceedings.

Tribunal judges previously convened in November to establish court rules for trials scheduled to begin in mid-2007, but they failed to agree [JURIST report] on the Draft Internal Rules [text, PDF]. Some disagreements stem from proposed checks and balances that would allow the foreign and Cambodian judges to veto each other’s decisions. Earlier this week, press reports suggested that if the procedural disagreements are not resolved soon some of the non-Cambodian judges may resign [JURIST report].

The ECCC was established by a 2001 law [PDF text] to investigate and try those responsible for the 1975-79 Cambodian genocide that led to the deaths of at least 1.5 million Cambodians by execution, forced hardships or starvation. To date, no top Khmer Rouge officials have faced trial and questions have been raised concerning exactly how many of the Khmer Rouge's top officials will face the tribunal, as several of those responsible for the genocide have recently died [JURIST report] and others are in failing health. The prosecutors nonetheless face significant administrative, legal and linguistic obstacles in preparing cases for trial; their formal investigations only began in July [JURIST report] of last year.

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