PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Cambodia's troubled Khmer Rouge war crimes court suffered a new setback Monday with the resignation of a key prosecutor -- the latest in a string of departures from the UN-backed tribunal.
announcement came as a strike by court staff over unpaid wages entered a
second week, threatening to disrupt a high-profile trial of two former
top regime leaders from the "Killing Fields" era in the late 1970s.
International co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley said in a statement that he was leaving for "personal reasons".
Sept 9, 2013
follows the resignation of three international lawyers and two judges
over the past two years amid allegations of government meddling.
Cayley, however, said his decision was unrelated to the court's woes.
really personal circumstances. I am not leaving out of frustration with
the court at all," the British lawyer, who was appointed to the role in
December 2009, told AFP.
At the same time he voiced concern about
the cash crunch at the tribunal, whose 250 Cambodian workers, including
judges and prosecutors, have not been paid since June.
"Of course, the financial situation of the court is frustrating to all of us," Cayley said.
spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the UN, the Cambodian government, tribunal
officials and donors were working to resolve the budget crisis.
"But so far, there is no solution yet," he said.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned last month that the "very survival of the court is now in question".
tribunal has been frequently short of cash since it was set up in 2006
to seek justice for the deaths of up to two million people under the
brutal communist Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-79.
The UN pays for
the international workers while the salaries of the local staff are the
responsibility of the Cambodian government, with both sides relying on
Two defendants -- "Brother Number Two" Nuon
Chea, 87, and former head of state Khieu Samphan, 82, -- are on trial
for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
The court is currently in recess and preparing to hear closing statements in the first part of the trial in mid October.
by 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.
So far the
UN-backed court has achieved one conviction, sentencing a former prison
chief to life in jail for overseeing the deaths of some 15,000 people.
Prime Minister Hun Sen -- himself a former Khmer Rouge cadre -- has
repeatedly voiced opposition to pursuing more suspects after the current