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Chhouk Rin exonerated

Chhouk Rin exonerated

F ORMER Khmer Rouge colonel Chhouk Rin has been cleared of responsibility for the

murders of the three foreign Phnom Vour hostages, according to a Ministry of

National Defense "clarification" issued Feb 3.

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

were killed after being kidnapped in a KR train ambush last year.

Excerpts from the ministry's statement:

"Following the tragic failure of the attempt to liberate the three hostages

and under order from the Royal Government of Cambodia, the competent services of

the Ministry of Defense undertook thorough investigations to bring to light the

exact circumstances of the tragic [deaths] and determine as far as possible the

role and responsibility of Khmer Rouge defect Chhouk Rin in this case.

"At a result of these investigations, it was found that:

"The three foreign hostages were kidnapped on July 26 1994... and soon

transferred to Khmer Rouge general Nuon Paet for custody at this headquarters at

Phnom Vour.

"[Paet] made use of the three hostages ... to extract as much concessions

possible from governments of the three countries as well as from the Royal

Government.

"In the course of these negotiations, the Khmer Rouge stronghold was

surrounded. The government forces had been able to persuade Chhouk Rin to defect

and to collaborate in the release of the hostages. [Paet] suspected Chhouk Rin

of collaboration with the government, so Chhouk Rin and his troops decided to

defect to the government side on 15 October, 1994.

"[Paet], more... desperate by this defection, interrupted the negotiations

and made preparation to escape while he sent back signals that he offered to

negotiate has surrender.

"It was at this moment that ... Paet ordered the execution of the three

hostages.

"Only after [Phnom Vour] had been overrun and the three bodies of the

hostages had been exhumed on November 2, 1994, [was it] confirmed they had been

executed.

"During the tense period of negotiations... Chhouk Rin and his men had

provided all their support to the RCAF to free the three unfortunate

victims.

Based on those facts, resulting from careful investigations, no evidence was

found, not even allegations were heard suggesting that Chhouk Rin [was] aware

of, or [was] implicated in the executions of the three hostages before he

defected.

"The Ministry of National Defense therefore concluded that, although he was

responsible for the initial kidnap of the three hostages, Chhouk Rin was sincere

in his defection together with his men, which speeded up the collapse of [Phnom

Vour]. He was not implicated in the killing of the three hostages. Accordingly,

Chhouk Rin was accepted into RCAF in conformity with the amnesty policy of the

Royal Government of Cambodia," the statement ends.

The hostages' countries have demanded that Rin be prosecuted for kidnapping

and /or murder.

According to a recent Scotland Yard statement, Slater was

believed to have been killed in early September, more than a month before Rin's

defection.

Ministry officials refused requests by the Post to provide a copy of the

ministry's full report on the hostage affair.

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