Former Khmer Rouge General Nuon Paet, currently serving out a life sentence at Prey Sar prison, suffered second degree burns from an accident involving cooking gas when he was preparing breakfast over the weekend, prison officials said yesterday.
“Gas exploded and burned his legs, chest and face while he was holding [the canister] to cook,” Kuy Bun Sorn, director of the prisons department at the Ministry of Interior, said yesterday.
Kuy Bun Sorn said Nuon Paet was holding a small canister of cooking gas, which exploded in an accident on Saturday before he had ignited it.
“He held it but it exploded before he connected it with the stove,” Kuy Bunsorn said.
Mong Kim Heng, director of Prey Sar prison, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Police guarding Nuon Paet at Preah Kossamak hospital did not allow visitors yesterday, though his torso and legs could be seen wrapped in a compress to ease the burns.
A doctor, who asked not to be named, said Nuon Paet had second degree burns, but doctors were continuing to monitor his progress.
Nuon Paet was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1999 for kidnapping and murdering three foreign backpackers.
The tourists had been taken hostage during the 1994 ambush of a Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville train by Khmer Rouge cadres near Kampot that left 13 Cambodians dead.
Australian David Wilson, Briton Mark Slater and Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet, all in their twenties, were held hostage for more than two months at Nuon Paet’s Kampot province base at Phnom Voar.
After pressure from foreign governments and negotiations with the Cambodian Government failed, the Government mounted an assault on the former Khmer Rouge stronghold, only to find that the three had already been executed.
Their graves were found weeks later after the government captured Phnom Voar.
In 2002, the Supreme Court upheld Nuon Paet’s conviction, while lower courts convicted Sam Bith, Pol Pot’s regional commander who later defected to the government, and Chhouk Rin, another Khmer Rouge commander, for their roles in the murders. They were both sentenced to life imprisonment.