Updated: 03/18/2013 13:37 | By Agence France-Presse

Strike ends at Cambodia's Khmer Rouge court

Employees at Cambodia's cash-strapped Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal have ended a strike that paralysed the trial of elderly former regime leaders, the court said.


Strike ends at Cambodia's Khmer Rouge court

Strike ends at Cambodia's Khmer Rouge court

The resolution follows calls from rights groups and the United Nations to speed up the trial of the remaining two Khmer Rouge defendants, following the death of regime co-founder Ieng Sary last week.

About 20 Cambodian translators and interpreters, who walked out on March 4, have agreed to return to work after they were promised they would receive their wages for December this week, tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra said.

"The strike is over for now," he told AFP.

But the staff warned that they would walk out again on April 1 if their contracts are not renewed by the end of March, he added.

About 270 Cambodian employees at the UN-backed court, including drivers, prosecutors and judges, have received no wages since November.

Neth Pheaktra said they would be paid using funds pledged by the European Union last year, whose transfer was delayed due to a "technical problem".

The Cambodian side of the hybrid tribunal -- whose top donors also include the European Union, Australia, France, Germany and Britain -- urgently needs more than $7 million to cover costs for 2013.

The tribunal has been frequently short of funding since it was set up in 2006 to find justice for the deaths of up to two million people under the hardline communist regime.

Ieng Sary, who as the regime's foreign minister was one of the few public faces of the Khmer Rouge, died in hospital on Thursday aged 87, escaping court judgement for his alleged role in the atrocities.

The two remaining defendants, "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea and former head of state Khieu Samphan -- who both deny charges of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity -- are in their 80s, prompting fears they too could die before the tribunal reaches a verdict.

The court plans to discuss Nuon Chea's fitness to stand trial on March 25.

Led by "Brother Number One" Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Khmer Rouge wiped out nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population through starvation, overwork or execution in a bid to create an agrarian utopia during their 1975-79 rule.

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