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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Five to stand trial in killing of British deminer, interpreter

Five to stand trial in killing of British deminer, interpreter

Court officials say the former Khmer Rouge cadres will face a judge as early as this month on charges of murder and kidnapping

HONOURING THE DEAD

Inspired by Howes's act of bravery in defending his Cambodian colleagues, King Norodom Sihanouk decided to rename the street in front of Hotel Le Royal "Christopher Howes Boulevard".

FIVE former Khmer Rouge cadres will stand trial in Phnom Penh's Municipal Court as early as this month for the 1996 killing of British deminer Christopher Howes and his Cambodian interpreter Houn Hoerth, a court official confirmed Tuesday.

"We have been working for many years on a complicated investigation to ensure that a judge would have enough evidence to convict and that we could bring justice to the victims," court chief Chev Keng told the Post.

He added that the trial could be delayed until early October.

Military police arrested three of the suspects in November, including RCAF Brigadier-General Khem Ngun, who was the Khmer Rouge's military chief of staff and Ta Mok's designated heir apparent, prior to his defection from the dying movement  in 1998.

Also seized were Loch Mao, a former Cambodian People's Party-affiliated district official in Anlong Veng who is believed to have shot the pair, and Cheath Cheth, who  allegedly drove the car that transported Howes and Houn Hoerth to Anlong Veng.

Two additional suspects, Sin Dorn and Puth Lim, were arrested shortly after.

Sao Sokha, chief of the National Military Police, told the Post Tuesday that all five suspects have been held at Prey Sar prison since their arrests.

Fatal bravery

Howes and Houn Hoerth were kidnapped by the Khmer Rouge on March 26, 1996, in a rural area north of Siem Reap town.

Howes was leading a 26-man Mines Advisory Group (MAG) demining team at the time.

WE HAVE BEEN

WORKING FOR MANY YEARS...TO BRING

JUSTICE TO THE VICTIMS.

The Khmer Rouge told Howes he could leave his team and bring back an unknown ransom in exchange for 10 Cambodian deminers the kidnappers would have kept.

He was ordered not to involve local police and militia.

But Howes declined the offer and said he would stay with his team.

By the end of his first day of captivity the rest of the deminers had been freed.

The two hostages were subsequently driven to Anlong Veng and executed, despite persistent reports that they were still alive.

Britain's Scotland Yard stationed officers in Siem Reap for the next several years and  tasked them to follow up all leads on the deminers.

It wasn't until the final demise of the Khmer Rouge in 1998 that sources confirmed the basic details of the executions of Howes and Hoerth.

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