Khmer Rouge tribunal gets loan to tackle unpaid salary crisis

The U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal said Wednesday it has secured funds to pay more than 140 Cambodian staff who stopped working earlier this month after their salaries were not paid for three months.

The cash-strapped tribunal, established in 2001 to try former Khmer Rouge figures for crimes against humanity and war crimes, said in a statement that the United Nations has secured authorization from major donors for a loan to cover the unpaid salaries.

The loan amounts to more than $1 million.

But the tribunal said it still needs more funding to pay Cambodian staff salaries for the remainder of 2013, warning that "any further strikes could risk delaying the judicial proceedings and jeopardize the court's ability to function."

Formally known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and staffed by a mix of Cambodian and international employees and judges, the hybrid court faces a shortfall of more than $1.8 million to pay its local staff through the end of this year.

It has spent nearly $200 million since it was set up in 2006, with 42 percent of its funding from Japan.

But it has so far concluded only one case, that of notorious Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Euv, alias Duch, who is now serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Currently in the dock are the Khmer Rouge regime's former No. 2 leader Nuon Chea and its head of state Khieu Samphan. Closing statements in the joint trial are scheduled for Oct. 16-31, and a verdict had been expected to be announced some time in 2014.

Two other indicted former Khmer Rouge leaders are no longer part of the proceedings. Ieng Sary, a former foreign minister, died on March 14, while his wife Ieng Thirith was last year released after being deemed unfit to stand trial because of dementia.

The Khmer Rouge are blamed for the deaths of some 1.7 million Cambodians from 1975 to 1979.