Cambodia's landmark trial of three ex-Khmer Rouge leaders faces fresh delays, the UN-backed court said Tuesday, explaining funding woes would force it to hold fewer hearings each month.
The court cannot afford to replace "a significant number of key international legal and other staff", judges said, in the latest setback to a trial stalked by fears that its octogenarian defendants will not live to see a verdict.
"While there is insufficient staff to support the work of the trial chamber, it cannot continue to sit for four days each week," presiding judge Nil Nonn said in court, adding that hearings would be three times a week from next month.
"This will lead inevitably to an extension of the time needed to conclude (the) case," he said.
The move comes as the oldest and most frail of the accused, ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary, 86, is in hospital with a string of ailments, lending fresh urgency to proceedings that have already been hit by health-related delays.
The tribunal, which is funded by foreign donors, has faced frequent cash shortages since it was set up in 2006 to seek justice for up to two million people who died under the 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime.
It has spent over $160 million so far and faces a shortfall of at least $4 million this year.