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
"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
"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
"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?"