Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer Rouge train ambush case set continue

Khmer Rouge train ambush case set continue

Khmer Rouge train ambush case set continue

khmer.jpg
khmer.jpg

T

he verdict in the August 28 appeal case of former Khmer Rouge deputy commander Chhouk

Rin has been delayed until September 4.

Francois Zimeray, the lawyer for the family of murdered French backpacker, Jean-Michel Braquet.

Rin was acquitted in 2000 for the abduction and murder of three Western backpackers

after a 1994 train ambush in Kampot province.

Rin did not appear at the appeal hearing, nor did his lawyer.

Francois Zimeray, counsel for the father of murdered Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet

- the family of whom has appealed the decision - criticized the Appeal Court hearing.

He added that several crucial witnesses to the ambush had also not appeared.

"I got a very bad impression this morning - the accused man is not here,"

he said. "I think that he is guilty. The Appeals Court did not oblige him to

appear, [even though] the court has the legal means to force him to come to court."

Put Theavy, Chhouk Rin's lawyer, said he had asked the Appeal Court to delay the

hearing because he was ill, and because he wanted to summon more witnesses to help

his client's case.

"I found an old lady who is a very important witness to prove that Chhouk Rin

was not in Phnom Vour when the three foreign tourists were killed," said Theavy,

adding that the former KR commander would not also appear unless he, Theavy, was

present.

The Sihanoukville-bound train was attacked in 1994 by the Khmer Rouge. Thirteen Cambodians

died in the attack, and three tourists - Braquet, 27, Briton Mark Slater, 28, and

Australian David Wilson, 29 - were among several hundred hostages detained in a Khmer

Rouge mountain stronghold in Phnom Vour in Kampot province. The trio were executed

later that year.

In a telephone interview, Chhouk Rin told the Post he was not involved in either

the attack on the train or the abductions.

"At that time I was in Phnom Penh to help my wife who was sick. I had nothing

to do with it," he said.

Rin added that if he was convicted of the charges of murder, kidnapping and membership

of an illegal armed group, he would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Other charges were armed robbery and terrorism, and destruction of public property.

The Cambodian lawyer for Braquet, Touch Chheng Tech, said Rin should be arrested

and sent to jail pending sentencing if convicted.

A witness for the prosecution told the Appeal Court he had met Chhouk Rin in Phnom

Vour just hours after the ambush. Chan Sary, who was a security guard on the train,

told the court that a man other people told him at the time was Rin had interrogated

him twice.

Rin was acquitted by a municipal court two years ago. The appeal was brought by Braquet's

family after the court ruled that Rin had been covered by an amnesty granted to Khmer

Rouge members to encourage them to defect to the government.

But Zimeray said the judge had wrongly interpreted the law as the offenses were committed

after the amnesty was announced, and that it applied only to Khmer Rouge footsoldiers,

not leaders.

"This law should not be applied to him," he said. "He commanded hundreds

of men [and] should not benefit from this law. I hope the court will be courageous

enough to condemn him," he said.

"I was very sad to read a letter Jean-Michel Braquet wrote to his father. They

said they needed food and medicine, that they were afraid, and that they were too

young to die."

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