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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 January 2006, 13:39 GMT
Khmer Rouge court moves closer
By Guy De Launey
BBC, Phnom Penh

Military personnel walk past the newly-built military buildings in Cambodia - 18/1/06
Staff are to start moving in in February
A ceremony in Cambodia has marked a significant step towards putting former leaders of the Khmer Rouge on trial.

The country's military authorities handed over the buildings that will serve as courts and the base for the UN-Cambodian investigative team.

Their new home is a collection of recently constructed buildings a short distance from Phnom Penh.

More than 1.5 million Cambodians died during the four years of Khmer Rouge government in the late 1970s.

Some critics have been sceptical about the location and the military origin of the complex. They suggested that witnesses could be intimidated.

But members of the trials team say it is ideally suited to their needs. Previously, the government task force was based in a cramped office in a car park.

Spokeswoman Helen Jarvis says the move will make all the difference.

"Until now, from the Cambodian side, it's been run on a shoestring. We expect to go on to quite a different level of operation once we set up with proper equipment, proper offices. As it is now, we're crammed into a shoebox," she said.

The UN has raised all the money for its contribution to the trials and members of its team are now in place.

But it will probably still be several months before the three-year process gets under way.

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