F ORMER Khmer Rouge colonel Chhouk Rin has been cleared of responsibility for the
murders of the three foreign Phnom Vour hostages, according to a Ministry of
National Defense "clarification" issued Feb 3.
Briton Mark Slater, Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet and Australian David Wilson
were killed after being kidnapped in a KR train ambush last year.
Excerpts from the ministry's statement:
"Following the tragic failure of the attempt to liberate the three hostages
and under order from the Royal Government of Cambodia, the competent services of
the Ministry of Defense undertook thorough investigations to bring to light the
exact circumstances of the tragic [deaths] and determine as far as possible the
role and responsibility of Khmer Rouge defect Chhouk Rin in this case.
"At a result of these investigations, it was found that:
"The three foreign hostages were kidnapped on July 26 1994... and soon
transferred to Khmer Rouge general Nuon Paet for custody at this headquarters at
"[Paet] made use of the three hostages ... to extract as much concessions
possible from governments of the three countries as well as from the Royal
"In the course of these negotiations, the Khmer Rouge stronghold was
surrounded. The government forces had been able to persuade Chhouk Rin to defect
and to collaborate in the release of the hostages. [Paet] suspected Chhouk Rin
of collaboration with the government, so Chhouk Rin and his troops decided to
defect to the government side on 15 October, 1994.
"[Paet], more... desperate by this defection, interrupted the negotiations
and made preparation to escape while he sent back signals that he offered to
negotiate has surrender.
"It was at this moment that ... Paet ordered the execution of the three
"Only after [Phnom Vour] had been overrun and the three bodies of the
hostages had been exhumed on November 2, 1994, [was it] confirmed they had been
"During the tense period of negotiations... Chhouk Rin and his men had
provided all their support to the RCAF to free the three unfortunate
Based on those facts, resulting from careful investigations, no evidence was
found, not even allegations were heard suggesting that Chhouk Rin [was] aware
of, or [was] implicated in the executions of the three hostages before he
"The Ministry of National Defense therefore concluded that, although he was
responsible for the initial kidnap of the three hostages, Chhouk Rin was sincere
in his defection together with his men, which speeded up the collapse of [Phnom
Vour]. He was not implicated in the killing of the three hostages. Accordingly,
Chhouk Rin was accepted into RCAF in conformity with the amnesty policy of the
Royal Government of Cambodia," the statement ends.
The hostages' countries have demanded that Rin be prosecuted for kidnapping
and /or murder.
According to a recent Scotland Yard statement, Slater was
believed to have been killed in early September, more than a month before Rin's
Ministry officials refused requests by the Post to provide a copy of the
ministry's full report on the hostage affair.