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Cambodia bar association slashes fees for genocide trial lawyers

[JURIST] A spokesman for the Cambodian Bar Association (BAKC) said Saturday that the group would dramatically reduce the fees it proposed to levy on foreign lawyers taking part in the upcoming Khmer Rouge genocide trials [JURIST news archive] before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia [official website]. Foreign lawyers will now to be required to pay a one-time flat fee of $500, down from an earlier combined rate of over $2700 comprised of a membership fee, a fee of $2000 payable on case assignment, and a monthly fee of $200. The initial fee structure had prompted concerns from rights NGOs [JURIST report] and foreign judges on the court that it would discourage volunteer lawyers from offering their services and would prompt complaints that defendants had not been given a free choice of counsel; some observers had feared that it would stymie the tribunal [JURIST report], which has already faced criticism for process delays. Bar Association representative Nou Tharith told a news conference that "The decision to lower the fees reflects the true willingness of the Cambodian Bar Association to allow the process of the tribunal to move forward as quickly as possible." A tribunal spokesman quoted by AP said that the decision of the bar association was a "very positive development." AP has more.

Cambodia's 1975-79 Khmer Rouge [MIPT backgrounder] regime was responsible for the deaths of over 1.7 million people from genocide, disease and malnutrition. The ECCC was created to investigate and prosecute instances of human rights violations by a 2001 agreement between Cambodia and the UN. Prosecutors are expected to indict about 10 defendants; trials which were initially expected to begin in mid-2007 have already been delayed for several months [JURIST report] due to disagreements over procedural rules.

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