The lawyer for former Khmer Rouge commander Chhouk Rin has said his client will not
use the controversial amnesty defense when his case reaches the Appeal Court on August
The appeal was lodged after Rin was cleared two years ago of the kidnapping and murder
of three Western backpackers following a train attack in 1994. More than a dozen
Cambodians were also killed in the raid.
The court at Rin's first hearing in July 2000 ruled that an amnesty provision in
the 1994 law that outlawed the KR applied to him. That decision was widely criticized
by legal and human rights groups, as well as the relatives of the three Westerners
- Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet, Briton Mark Slater, and Australian David Wilson.
The three were murdered several months after being taken from the Sihanoukville-bound
"This legal case will be worked out as a normal crime, because it will be a
re-trial and the defense is based on UNTAC law [which does not provide for amnesties].
The defense will be based on innocence," said his lawyer, Puth Theavy.
He added that his client would admit to taking part in the attack, but was not involved
in either the kidnappings or the killings.
Before his first trial two years ago Rin admitted responsibility for the attack,
but retracted that at the hearing and claimed he was in hospital when it took place.
As it turned out, the court ignored the details, and ruled that as he had defected
during the six month amnesty window, he was untouchable.
Theavy and Chhouk Rin told the Post on July 25 they were confident he would again
be acquitted providing the appeal was handled properly and the government did not
submit to international pressure.
"I would like to appeal to donor countries not to put pressure on the government,"
said Theavy. "It will affect the trial if they do. If donor countries do not
interfere or pressure the government, I will be able to seek justice for my client."
Rin agreed with his lawyer.
"As long as the trial follows proper legal procedures, I will win the case just
as I did at the municipal court," Rin said.
He insisted he was innocent, claiming he was too far down the chain of command to
be involved and "had joined the government already when the three foreigners
The only person convicted to date for the deaths of the Westerners is former KR commander
Nuon Paet, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in June 1999. Both Chhouk Rin and
Sam Bith, who was arrested earlier this year and is awaiting trial, appeared as witnesses
at Paet's hearing.
Rin said he was worried the Western victims' parents and their countries wanted revenge,
not proper justice. He said the Cambodian judicial system "has been doing good
work - let it continue to work for peace".
A former KR colonel in Kampot, who is an associate of Rin's, told the Post Rin was
instrumental in the reintegration of KR forces and should be left alone.
"I'm not that concerned about [the appeal] because Chhouk Rin didn't do anything
wrong," he said. "If you accuse anyone you should accuse Pol Pot.
"I believe very strongly that if foreigners stop wrangling with Cambodian affairs,
Cambodians can live in harmony," he said. "Foreigners should stop involving
themselves in Cambodian affairs - if they prosecute the Khmer Rouge, shouldn't they
prosecute the US for dropping 4 million bombs? Is that fair?"