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Cambodia judges blame international colleagues for Khmer Rouge tribunal delay

[JURIST] Cambodian judges on the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] fired back at their international counterparts on Friday with a statement accusing the international judges of deliberately delaying the trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders by threatening to postpone [JURIST report] the April 30 meeting to draft the ECCC's internal rules. The international judges on Tuesday announced that they would not attend the meeting if the Cambodian Bar Association (BAKC) refuses to withdraw its demand that foreign lawyers pay a $4,900 fee to join the BAKC and represent defendants in the ECCC. The Cambodian judges contend that the dispute over bar fees should not affect the internal rules meeting since they are not related to the procedures of the ECCC. Both NGOs and international ECCC judges protested the fees [JURIST report] for fear they will discourage volunteer lawyers from offering their services and will prompt complaints that defendants have not been given a free choice of counsel. The ECCC has given the Bar Association until the end of the month to reconsider its position, at which point they may proceed without the BAKC's input.

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; however, trials which were scheduled to begin in mid-2007 have been delayed for several months [JURIST report] due to disagreements over procedural rules. The Bar Association has blamed delays on the ECCC [JURIST report]. DPA has more.

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