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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Killing may be linked to Hadden case

Killing may be linked to Hadden case

S IEM REAP-There has been a report of a third murder in the wake of the Jan 15

killing of American tourist Susan Hadden and her guide Hom Vuthea in Banteay


Kdang Tean, 33 - one of the 10 arrested for the killings along with

her KR defector husband-was recently told in prison by a visiting friend that

her house had been mined one night in February, and that one of her five

children had tripped one of the mines the next morning and been


Tean told a human rights investigator from Adhoc that the man who

booby-trapped her house was a Khmer Rouge commander called Rin. Rin has been

fingered by Tean as being involved in the Jan 15 ambush.

The rights

investigator said Tean was very upset over the death of her child and would

never return to the commune because she was afraid the KR would kill her and her


Tean said Rin had given the 10-strong KR group she was with the

Haddens' camera-an important piece of evidence-to sell and that he was angry the

group later defected.

The alleged killing of Tean's child has neither

been confirmed nor investigated yet.

The group of ten-aged between 50

and 19 and including married couples-were arrested on Jan 25. Tean claims they

willingly defected and knew nothing of the killings; police say their commune

had been surrounded and they had no choice but to give themselves up.


chief judge if Siem Reap court confirmed to the Post that six of the 10

suspects, including Tean, were innocent and would probably be released soon.

Four were guilty of Hadden and Vuthea's murders, he said.

The human

rights investigation has been hampered because the village of Komprum where the

10 suspects were captures is only nominally under government control. Often,

according to local sources, KR soldiers will arrive-"even if its only two or

three"-and the village will be deemed unsafe.

Potentially crucial

witnesses-such as the commune chief, who may have information on the

circumstances leading to the group's defection, and neighbors - have not been


Tean is the only suspect who has been interviewed in prison

by Adhoc. Rights organizations are trying to get a public defender to

investigate as soon as possible.

The police investigation headed by penal

police chief Colonel Ou Em is finished.

Ou Em told the Post: "This case

seems very clear... there is nothing more for us to do. We have collected our

evidence and written our report to the court."

Siem Reap chief judge Plan

Chhlam said: "The investigation is finished and now we are waiting word from the

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the US Embassy, whether the victim (Susan

Hadden's husband William) will ask for money from the criminals who killed his

wife, wounded him and stole his property."

"If the victim does not ask

for compensation there will still be a trial, but the trial will just be

punishment for the crime only, not for compensation," Chhlam said.


said that of the 10 suspects now being held, "Four committed the crime, and six

are innocent."

"Four have already confessed, and among those four two

have also confessed to an earlier crime of robbing the Takeo market," the chief

judge said.

"Among the six, two ladies will be released soon... another

one is just KR militia and he may be released soon. The other three are former

Khmer Rouge soldiers. This is now after the amnesty, I don't know if they will

be released or not," Chhlam said. "We are waiting word from the Ministry of

Justice on this."

The Haddens left Siem Reap to visit Banteay Srey temple

on Jan 15, with two policemen and their guide, Vuthea. They were the last of a

five car convoy.

A KR ambush crippled the car about eight kilometers from

the temple. The two policemen escaped into the jungle nearby after exchanging

gunfire with the attackers, according to police.

Neither Adhoc nor the

Post have been able to interview the two policemen, one of whom was called Chey

Sa Em. However, Ou Em said he had taken their statements. Authorities have

repeatedly said that there was no police or military complicity in the


Ou Em said that, according to his investigations, "if the two

Americans agreed with the policemen and ran out of the car, they might have been


"They didn't do that, they might not have thought the car was

damaged and (William) Hadden tried to drive it away, but the front wheel was


Police say that Susan Hadden and Vuthea were shot dead in the

car-either in the initial attack or when Mr Hadden tried driving the car away -

while a badly wounded Hadden either played dead or was unconscious at the


Their pockets were emptied after the attack, Ou Em


Chhlam said that the KR policy was to capture American citizens

"without killing them, it was a big mistake they were killed... if they captured

them they were worth 4,000 bath each."

According to Adhoc's statement

from Tean, on Jan 25 she and another wife of a KR soldier visited their husbands

in the jungle to persuade them to defect. The two couples and another six KR

defectors made their way back to Komprum village and met Rin on the


Tean says Rin gave them a Western-style camera to sell. Chhlam said

that it had been made known around outlying villages that government authorities

would buy the camera for a "high price."

Tean says they gave themselves

up willingly as defectors to the commune chief, and that they knew nothing about

the murders.

Chhlam and Ou Em however said that the group were in the

village when it was surrounded by provincial militia looking for the murderers,

and that the group had no choice but to give themselves up as defectors. Chhlam

said that it was true that Tean had received the camera from Rin.


and possibly some other KR soldiers, could also be culpable "but they didn't

defect," he said.

"It sounds unbelievable but its true. They are

hardliners. They were given an order (to capture the tourists) but they were not

successful, therefore they would likely be killed. The four men had no choice

but to defect," Chhlam said.

Those found guilty of the murders would face

between eight and 20 years in prison; the jail terms for robbery are between

three and five years.



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