FORMER Khmer Rouge commander Chhouk Rin, who was convicted of the murder of three Western backpackers in 1994, will soon ask King Norodom Sihamoni for a pardon, his lawyer told the Post last week.
Chhouk Rin’s lawyer, Puth Theavy, said Thursday that he would ask the King to pardon his client on the grounds that he has fallen seriously ill after contracting AIDS, malaria and liver disease.
“I will submit a document requesting the King pardon [Chhouk Rin] before the Water Festival this year,” he said.
The conviction against Chhouk Rin, 56, on charges of terrorism, robbery and murder, for which he received a life sentence, was upheld by the Supreme Court in February 2005.
Two other former Khmer Rouge military officials, Nuon Paet and his now deceased former provincial commander, Sam Bith, also received life sentences for the killings.
Heng Hak, director general of the Interior Ministry’s prisons department, said prisoners convicted for life need to serve at least 20 years of their sentence before they can be considered for a pardon.
Chhouk Rin was convicted in absentia in 2000, but he was not apprehended by authorities until October 2005. He has served less than five years of his sentence.
Heng Hak said any request for a pardon would need to be sent to the Ministry of Justice, which would forward it to the King for consideration.
Chhouk Rin’s wife, Yem Sao, a 42-year-old lawyer living in Kep province, called on the government to help facilitate her husband’s release.
“It is very difficult for me to make a living that supports my family,” she said.
“Since my husband was arrested and imprisoned, looking after my family has become increasingly difficult.”
She said she was supporting three children and could only afford to visit her husband once or twice a month, adding that she had noticed during her last visit that her husband’s body had become swollen, and that he had contracted a cold.