Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Daughter, bodyguards say Paet did not commit murders

Daughter, bodyguards say Paet did not commit murders

Daughter, bodyguards say Paet did not commit murders

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paet.gif

Sticking up for dear ol' Dad

NuoThy and her father's bodyguards say ex-rebel Nuon Paet did not kill the three Western hostages brought by the Khmer Rouge to Phnom Penh Vour in 1994, he merely ordered their deaths.

NUON Paet, the former Khmer Rouge general accused of

murdering three foreigners in 1994, has told a Phnom Penh

judge he did not do it - a claim echoed by his daughter

and bodyguards, but with one qualification: they say he

ordered it.

Paet is being held in Phnom Penh's T3 jail awaiting trial

for the kidnapping and murder of Briton Mark Slater,

Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet and Australian David

Wilson.

Speaking at the family home 10km from Pailin, Paet's

daughter Nuon Thy said she did not know that her father

had been arrested and asked, "Is he alive?"

She said that her father "did not kill the three

foreigners". At that point one of several soldiers

at the house said that a man named Vorn had killed them

"and Vorn is dead".

He said Vorn had been a Khmer Rouge defector who then

returned to the Khmer Rouge.

"He was killed during a fight in Phnom Vour in

1994," he said.

When asked who ordered Vorn to kill the three men, Thy

said: "My father did."

She added that her father never received any of the

ransom money that was meant to have been handed over for

the men's release.

The soldiers said that they were bodyguards of Nuon Paet,

although they all denied having been with him in 1994.

None would give their names.

One soldier said Paet was last seen when a man named Pgo

Sarran came to the house with a message allegedly from

Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.

"Pgo told him he could meet Hun Sen personally in

Battambang. We wouldlike to meet Pgo Sarran and talk to

him but he has disappeared," he said.

Both the soldier and Thy rejected suggestions that Paet

had been smuggling cars across the border from Thailand.

They said he was a farmer who bought and sold cows - not

cars.

Meanwhile in Phnom Penh, Paet is reportedly suffering no

ill effects from his incarceration.

A guard at T3 who asked not to be named said that Paet

appeared to be in good health. "He is getting his

daily food ration like the other prisoners," he

said.

Requests to interview Paet were turned down by the

Justice Ministry on the grounds that he was the subject

of a criminal investigation.

The guard said that no one had spoken to Paet except for

the prosecutor and the investigating judge, but he did

not hear the conversations because "our duty is only

to guard and secure the jail, as well as the

prisoners."

He said Paet was isolated and did not talk to the other

prisoners and they did not talk to him.

Investigating judge for the Municipal Court, Oum Sarith,

said that he had spoken to Paet a few days after he had

been arrested.

"He denied the charge that he had committed the

act," Sarith said.

He said that the Kampot Provincial Court had transferred

their file on the case to the Municipal Court in Phnom

Penh but added: "We are continuing the probe. We do

not have enough evidence yet. We are trying to collect

more involved documents to examine."

He said he expected the case to go to court soon after

the investigation was completed.

Back in Pailin, family and friends are awaiting his

return - particularlyhis soldiers. "Nuon Paet didn't

kill these people. We are very sad for him. When will he

be back?" one asked.

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