BRITISH POLICE have completed an investigation into the murder of British
deminer Christopher Howes after he was kidnapped with his interpreter by the
Khmer Rouge in Siem Reap in March 1996.
Both men were working for MAG
(Mines Advisory Group) when they captured.
They were later taken to
Anlong Veng where they were killed apparently on the orders of Ta
The British police left Cambodia two weeks ago after interviewing a
number of witnesses.
British ambassador George Edgar said he could not
give details of the officers' findings but he said it was now a matter for the
Cambodian authorities to pursue.
A judicial source said the officers had
Government approval to visit Ta Mok, but their request was vetoed by the
Hun Sen adviser Om Yien Teng said that although the
police could not visit Ta Mok they were allowed to pass written questions to him
via his lawyer, though he did not know if they did so.
He refused to say
who was likely to be arrested for the killings or whether it would happen
However an Anlong Veng source supplied photographs of one of the
suspects, former commander of KR division 980 Louch Mao, being flown out of
Anlong Veng by helicopter to be interviewed by the British police and local
authorities on July 11.
The source said there was currently a three-way
battle going on over responsibility for the killings.
Louch Mao, a former Khmer Rouge division 980 commander and suspect in the Christopher Howes murder case, has been taken from Anlong Veng by helicopter for questioning by British Police and Cambodian Authorities.
He said Louch Mao
and fellow former military commanders Ta Tem and Khem Nguon were all accusing
He said there were rumors in Anlong Veng that 10 people
would be charged in connection with the kidnap and killing.
been extensive debate about the fate of Chris Howes, with some defectors from
Anlong Veng claiming he was kept alive for more than three months, during which
time he was forced to work in Ta Mok's munitions factory.
even credited him with developing the KR's flying mines which jump up before
exploding and were first used by the guerillas in 1996.
were given credibility by claims from current Funcinpec Senator Nhek Bun Chhay
at the time that Howes was alive and he could get him back.
British authorities are now believed to be satisfied that they know exactly what
happened to Howes and his translator Houn Hourth: they were handed over to Khem
Nguon, then Ta Mok's aide-general and later chief of staff, and killed in a
matter of days after capture, their bodies burned and the bones crushed and
thrown in the Anlong Veng lake.
Defectors have said that Nguon was the
person who dealt most directly with Howes and has the most knowledge of the
Nguon now lives in Phnom Penh but could not be reached for
According to former Pol Pot regional zone secretary Ke Pauk, the
actual killings were carried out by a man named Bao at Pienic Khmei (the place
of new commerce).
Defectors claim Bao had been appointed minister of
commerce by Pol Pot in 1995.