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French prosecutor to reinvestigate 1994 train ambush

French prosecutor to reinvestigate 1994 train ambush

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

demand.

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

jail.

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

they find."

Judge Bruguiere has previously made headlines for his

prosecution of "superterroist" Carlos the Jackal and other high-profile militant

criminals.

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