The Appeals Court has upheld the conviction of former Khmer Rouge commander Chhouk
Rin for abducting and killing three foreigners in 1994.
After facing the same three-judge panel that convicted him last year, the court affirmed
Rin's sentence of life imprisonment on November 5 following a brief retrial on October
27. He was not present to hear the verdict.
"He is absent because he is ill," said Puth Theavy, lawyer for Chhouk Rin.
"He has already appeared at the Appeals Court." Theavy said his client
was resting at a local guesthouse.
The court upheld charges against Rin for murder, illegal detention, theft of property,
destruction of public property and terrorism. However, it dropped a previous accusation
that he belonged to an illegally armed group.
He was first tried and acquitted in 2000 under an amnesty law for former Khmer Rouge
soldiers. The case was then appealed by the father of Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet,
one of the slain hostages.
On November 5, the Appeals Court judge Samreth Sophal read the verdict aloud, saying
that although Chhouk Rin had not directly perpetrated the killings on July 26,1994,
he ordered his force of Khmer Rouge rebels to attack the train in Kampot province
that led to death of 13 Cambodians and, later, three foreigners.
After the attack, the Khmer Rouge held three backpackers-Australian David Wilson,
Briton Mark Slater and Braquet-hostage for about two months while trying to negotiate
a $150,000 ransom demand. The three were executed after talks failed.
Rin has consistently denied the charges against him, saying he was not present for
the ambush by Khmer Rouge forces. He was a mid-level commander at the Khmer Rouge
stronghold of Phnom Voar, about 100 kilometers from Phnom Penh. Rin's boss, Nuon
Paet, was convicted for the attack in 1999 and is now serving a life term.
Lim Eng Ratanak, the lawyer for the father of Jean-Michel Braquet, said that both
the victim and defendant had two more months to submit an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Rin's lawyer said his client would remain free for 60 days while he filed an appeal
with the Supreme Court.
"I feel disappointed with the verdict today morning, because my client has already
joined with the government," Theavy said.