AUSTRALIA'S new government has called for a "frank and fearless" enquiry
into allegations that the Cambodian government sabotaged the release of three hostages
in 1994 - later killed by the Khmer Rouge - for political reasons.
A Senate committee heard "secret evidence" from KNP leader and former Finance
Minister Sam Rainsy that written proof had been gathered by Chea Dara, a general
who had been sacked as the key negotiator for the release of the hostages in August
1994, the Melbourne Age reported.
Rainsy told the committee that military action against the KR holding the hostages
intensified at the time they were due to be released; that Dara was replaced by a
hard-line military officer; and that "an official close to Prince Norodom Ranariddh
intervened to stop the release of one hostage, Jean-Michel Braquet, on 19 August
1994," the Age said.
Ranariddh reacted angrily from Phnom Penh saying that the government had done all
it could - including having paid a $200,000 ransom - to secure the release of Australian
David Wilson, Frenchman Braquet and Brit Mark Slater.
Ranariddh said that Rainsy's allegations were absolutely wrong and were politically
The evidence before the committee, the Age said, "contradicts some of the former
Labor Government's version of events that led to the killings, and could damage the
Howard Government's relations with Cambodia."