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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Negotiators' killings explained

Negotiators' killings explained

"IT'S the result of a spy versus spy plan." With these words the "KR

Papers" begin explaining the internal powerplay that led to the murders of ten

of the 15 Funcinpec ne-gotiators last year in Anlong Veng.

Four pilots and Nin Pin, a deputy commander of RCAF Division 9, survived the trip

to Anlong Veng.

The group, led by Siem Reap second deputy governor Hem Bun Heng, left in February

last year to negotiate with Ta Mok's deputies. They landed in the middle of a power

struggle between Pol Pot and Ta Mok.

They say Ta Mok wanted to arrest Bun Heng to pressure Rana-riddh to hasten the rebels'

entry into the National United Front.

The murders were initiated by Pol Pot and one of his loyalists, Saroeun, or "05".

"The intention to capture the helicopter was to ruin negotiations between Anlong

Veng and Funcinpec," according to an entry dated Sept 30, 1997 by political

group director Seng. Seng - in a retrospective account from what was the victorious

faction of the KR split led by Ta Mok - blamed Pol Pot's forces for the Funcinpec

deaths.

"05" [Saroeun] was sent by Pol Pot to arrest the team. But Saroeun was

beaten to the chopper by Mok's men Tem and Nguon, who had Saroeun's underling "06"

(San), with them. It was San who arrested the team, tied them up and began taking

them back to Tem's area, when Saroeun caught up. The papers say a firefight erupt-ed

and chief negotiator Bun Heng was wounded. Saroeun won control. He ordered one of

Tem's men, Hean, to shoot the prisoners and to then accuse Tem and Nguon of issuing

the murder command.

Hean was slapped into one of the Anlong Veng's "tiger cage" prisons and

forced by Saroeun to blame Tem and Nguon.

For months Funcinpec and the CPP argued over the fate of the team. Funcinpec commander

Khan Savoeun said he had radio contact with the team but finally said in April he

was worried. The CPP kept claiming they had information confirming their deaths.

In June last year Funcinpec General Nhek Bun Chhay said five hostages would be freed

as part of the deal on which he was working. He did not have time to keep his promise

before the July fighting forced him to flee.

The KR's version in the documents confirm what the four pilots said when they eventually

came back to Phnom Penh at the end of July. They had to walk out from Anlong Veng

where they had been detained for six months, via O'Smach.

The pilots said that the team was greeted by Khmer Rouge officials upon arrival,

and ordered at gun point to turn off the engine.

Soon after the pilots heard gun shots. They were taken away, passing the bodies of

the other passengers. The injured Hem Bun Heng and Nin Pin were waiting for them

in a truck. Bun Heng was later taken off the truck and never seen again.

The decision to send the negotiators to Anlong Veng was one of the charges during

the March 18 trial against Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

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