Chhouk Rin, one of three Khmer Rouge officers convicted for the execution of
three western backpacker hostages in 1994, says he welcomes news that a top
French prosecutor will come to Cambodia and conduct an independent investigation
to uncover the truth about what happened.
In an interview with The
Australian newspaper, Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere said he would go to Cambodia to
find the true story of the murders.
"The case is not closed. I will
investigate," he said.
A train traveling from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville
was attacked by 200 Khmer Rouge soldiers in July 1994 at Phnom Voar, Kampot.
Thirteen Cambodian passengers were killed and the three foreigners taken
hostage. Their bodies, shot in the head, were found six weeks later in shallow
graves after negotiations failed to secure their release for a $50,000 ransom
Khmer Rouge general Nuon Paet and KR commanders Sam Bith and
Chhouk Rin were each sentenced to life in prison for their part in the murders.
Rin, convicted in 2002, appealed against his sentence to the Phnom Penh Supreme
Court last December and is still waiting to be heard. The others are in
The Post spoke to Rin by telephone at his home in the Third Farm
Development Village in Kampot. He said he hadn't yet heard about the French
judge's new investigation.
When told, Rin said "I'm happy to hear about
it from you because [Jean-Louis Bruguiere] would find the truth and arrest the
guy who ordered the attack and hostage taking. I am not worried because I was
not involved in the attack.
"The judge will be independent. The
government has taken money from victim's families to investigate but they did
not, they kept the money for themselves."
Rin said he has a heart problem
and needs an operation in Thailand but it would cost $3,000-4,000 and he doesn't
have money to pay for it. "I need to rest, I cannot work hard, I am sick every
other day. I go to my farm every day to be with my children but cannot work with
them due to my illness."
Judge Bruguiere, who originally took on the case
in 1994 when Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet was kidnapped with Australian David
Wilson and Briton Mark Slater in the train ambush at Phnom Voar, said there
remained unanswered questions.
Asked whether he could find more on the
Cambodian case after a 10-year lapse, Judge Bruguiere said: "I am quite
confident. I have some relevant information."
Implying a possible
broader conspiracy, Judge Bruguiere said he wanted to track down "all the
individuals implicated in this operation".
"It's not so easy. It's not
just a small team involved in the assassination. All the individuals, even those
belonging to the government administration, could be involved - in the military
forces, in the intelligence forces," he said.
Wilson's father, Peter,
welcomed the French move and asked why the Australian Government had not done
more to uncover the truth.
"I don't think the Australian Government,
both then and now, have really tried to find out who was responsible for David's
death," Mr Wilson said. "I would like the Australian Government to follow up
closely what the French Government is doing and be very open-minded about what
Judge Bruguiere has previously made headlines for his
prosecution of "superterroist" Carlos the Jackal and other high-profile militant