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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Nuon Paet's lawyer sets sights on Supreme Court

Nuon Paet's lawyer sets sights on Supreme Court

POUT Theavy, the attorney for former Khmer Rouge commander Nuon Paet, says he will

appeal the October 4 decision of the Appeal Court to uphold his client's lifetime

sentence.

"I will take all the conclusions of the Appeal Court to the Supreme Court and

fight them," Theavy said. "Right now I am busy working with my client and

have asked him to put his thumbprint on the complaint paper to the Supreme Court.

I hope that the complaint will reach the Supreme Court by the end of this week."

Last year, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Paet to life in prison for his

involvement in the kidnapping and murder of three Western backpackers in 1994.

Paet's appeal was heard on September 20, and after two weeks of deliberation, the

three Appeal Court judges announced their decision to uphold the municipal court

verdict.

"After scrutinizing the case, the verdict of the Phnom Penh municipal court

is found to be correct. There is enough evidence to support the verdict of guilty

of all charges. Therefore, the Appeal Court cannot accept Nuon Paet's case for reconsideration,"

Appeal Court President Samreth Sophal said in his verdict.

Briton Mark Slater, 28, Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet, 27, and Australian David Wilson,

29, were taken off a southbound train near Kampot and held hostage in a KR camp on

Phnom Voar for two months before they were executed. At least 13 Cambodians also

died in the ambush on the train.

Paet was convicted of kidnapping, murder, robbery, destruction of public property,

terrorism and illegally forming armed forces. He has continuously pleaded innocent

and said he was bypassed by his superiors in the decision to kill the tourists. During

the appeal hearing, Paet claimed that he was only in charge of political and administrative

affairs at Phnom Voar and that he knew nothing about military activities.

The prosecutor at the Appeal Court offered to drop the charge of illegally forming

armed groups. However, this decision was overruled by the appeal judges. When the

case reaches the Supreme Court, Theavy says he will argue for the charges of terrorism

and illegally forming armed forces to be dropped.

On July 18, another former KR commander, Chhouk Rin, who has previously admitted

that he was in charge of the train attack, was let off the hook by the Phnom Penh

municipal court after spending six months behind bars. The municipal judge cited

a provision in the 1994 law banning the KR, that provided amnesties to all rebels

who defected within a six month period.

The appeal court's decision to uphold Paet's sentence was met with satisfaction by

Western diplomats. However, several supporters and relatives of Paet, present at

the Appeal Court, found the verdict unfair.

"I think the court should understand the KR network; Paet was responsible for

policy, so he didn't know about plans for the armed forces," said one of Paet's

former bodyguards.

"I think the Government should bring other former KR in Malai and Pailin, who

were involved in the attack, to trial too. If they are talking about a conspiracy,

why is it only Nuon Paet who is punished?"

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