Progress in KRouge court corruption talks: UN

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - A UN official Monday said "great headway" has been made during talks with senior Cambodian officials to find ways to stop alleged corruption at the Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal. The UN-backed court, which opened its first trial last week, has faced controversy over allegations of political interference by the government and corruption claims that Cambodian staff paid kickbacks for their jobs. "We worked together to try to find solutions to the challenges that are in front of the court," UN assistant secretary general for legal affairs Peter Taksoe-Jensen said after meeting deputy premier Sok An and other officials. "We have made great headway this morning," Taksoe-Jensen told reporters, adding that they had also discussed an anti-corruption mechanism at the court. Meetings would continue later Monday after officials "think about the proposals from both sides." After years of wrangling between the Cambodian government and the United Nations, the court was created in 2006 to try leading members of the communist 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime. The long-awaited first trial started last week when the regime's notorious prison chief, Kaing Guek Eav, better known by the alias Duch, went before the court. Four other Khmer Rouge leaders are also in detention awaiting trial. The latest corruption allegations emerged last year, prompting the UN to launch an investigation into claims that Cambodian workers had been forced to pay for their jobs. International backers have appeared hesitant to pledge more money to the court after allegations of political interference by the government over whether the court will bring charges against more Khmer Rouge figures. Court officials have said last year's allegations were "unspecific, unsourced and unsubstantiated." Up to two million people were executed or died of starvation, disease and overwork as the ultra-Marxist Khmer Rouge movement tried to create an agrarian utopia.
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