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British end Howes murder inquiry

British end Howes murder inquiry


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.

Christopher Howes

They were later taken to

Anlong Veng where they were killed apparently on the orders of Ta

Mok.

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

Military Court.

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

soon.

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

one another.

He said there were rumors in Anlong Veng that 10 people

would be charged in connection with the kidnap and killing.

There has

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.

RCAF officers

even credited him with developing the KR's flying mines which jump up before

exploding and were first used by the guerillas in 1996.

These reports

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.

However the

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

case.

Nguon now lives in Phnom Penh but could not be reached for

comment.

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.

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