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Court throws out appeal in Howes case

Court throws out appeal in Howes case

The Appeal Court today upheld the verdict and sentence of four former Khmer Rouge convicted of killing British deminer Chris Howes, according a representative of the Mines Advisory Group, the man’s former employer.

“The Appeal Court upheld the verdict and sentence of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for all four convicted persons,” said Jamie Franklin, the country head of MAG.

In March 1996, Howes and his Cambodian counterpart Houn Hourth were abducted and killed by Khmer Rouge cadres.

More than a decade later, in October 2008, Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted four former Khmer Rouge – including Royal Cambodian Armed Forces brigadier general Kham Mum – of kidnapping and murder in connection with the case.

Three were convicted and handed 20-year jail terms for their role in the killing, while the fourth received 10 years.

Franklin said none of the accused appeared at today’s hearing.

In an appeal hearing earlier this month, lawyers for the accused argued that their clients should have their sentences reduced or overturned because they did not mastermind the killing and faced death themselves if they did not obey orders.

Lawyers for the Howes family read out a translated statement from Howes’ sister Patricia Phillips, which called for the earlier verdicts to be upheld.

“We have never sought revenge, but simply justice for these two fine and brave men, brutally murdered whilst carrying out life saving work,” the statement said.

In a separate statement today, Phillips said her family welcomed the verdict of the court.

“My father Roy Howes and I had hoped with all our hearts that the sentences handed down by the Municipal Court would be upheld, and we are both hugely relieved to hear that the men convicted of killing my brother Christopher and his friend Houn Hourth remain in prison today,” she stated.

MAG Chief Executive Lou McGrath said he was “hugely pleased” at the outcome of the appeal.

“MAG will never forget Chris, or the sacrifice he made for the people of Cambodia, and I too am grateful to the [judges] who overturned this appeal,” he said.

Judge Um Sarith, who was in charge of the case, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Court prosecutor Pann Kim Leang declined to comment in detail on the hearing. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA

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