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Comment: David Chappell: A letter to the Cambodia Times

Comment: David Chappell: A letter to the Cambodia Times

Dear Sir,

note with interest the editorial statement, headlined

"Negative Journalism", by T Mohan in the current issue of the Cambodia Times.

In my view, the front page article in the same issue, headlined "KR

murderWestern captives, Australia irks govt", is one of the worst examples of

irresponsible and unprofessional journalism I have ever encountered.The

responsibility must be shared equally between the Cambodia Times and its

anonymous, and supposedly official, sources.

What is particularly

distressing to me, as the father of Dominic Chappell, is to learn of the alleged

details of the murder of Dominic and his two companions, Kellie and Tina, from

this newspaper article.

When we, the families of Dominic, Kellie and

Tina, were told of the discovery of certain items which indicated that the three

were probably dead, utmost secrecy was enjoined upon us, at the request of the

Royal Government. This secrecy was intended to avoid compromising the continuing

investigation and to protect the lives of Khmer nationals who were judged to be

at risk of death should details be published. That secrecy now appears to have

been totally and prematurely destroyed by the Cambodia Times and its unamed


At this time, there is only one established fact in the case,

that Dominic, Kellie, and Tina were abducted on 11 April 1994. Anything else is

speculation, rumor, or unconfirmed circumstantial evidence. The circumstantial

evidence points to the probability of the three being dead, but, until forensic

tests are complete - and this may take several months - it remains


The distressing and detailed account of the manner of death

published by the Cambodia Times is, I am assured by responsible and reliable

authorities, a fabrication. Indeed, there is no indisputable evidence of Khmer

Rouge responsibility for the original abduction and probable deaths of Dominic,

Kellie, and Tina. The whole truth may never be known.

In light of this,

and other factual errors in the Cambodia Times article, one can only doubt the

sincerity of Mr Mohan's campaign for responsibility and professionalism in

journalism. One can speculate on the motives of the Cambodia Times and its

anonymous sources in printing this story. However, to give voice to that

speculation would be a disservice to truth and to the memory of Dominic, Kellie,

and Tina. To quote Mr Mohan, one would "thrive on sensationalism and


I have, despite the unhappy events of the last three

and a half months, a deep affection for Cambodia and its people.I wish the Royal

Government every success in its efforts to bring peace and recovery to this

country. That cause has not been helped by Mr Mohan and his anonymous


- Yours faithfully, David Chappell


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