S IEM REAP-There has been a report of a third murder in the wake of the Jan 15
killing of American tourist Susan Hadden and her guide Hom Vuthea in Banteay
Kdang Tean, 33 - one of the 10 arrested for the killings along with
her KR defector husband-was recently told in prison by a visiting friend that
her house had been mined one night in February, and that one of her five
children had tripped one of the mines the next morning and been
Tean told a human rights investigator from Adhoc that the man who
booby-trapped her house was a Khmer Rouge commander called Rin. Rin has been
fingered by Tean as being involved in the Jan 15 ambush.
investigator said Tean was very upset over the death of her child and would
never return to the commune because she was afraid the KR would kill her and her
Tean said Rin had given the 10-strong KR group she was with the
Haddens' camera-an important piece of evidence-to sell and that he was angry the
group later defected.
The alleged killing of Tean's child has neither
been confirmed nor investigated yet.
The group of ten-aged between 50
and 19 and including married couples-were arrested on Jan 25. Tean claims they
willingly defected and knew nothing of the killings; police say their commune
had been surrounded and they had no choice but to give themselves up.
chief judge if Siem Reap court confirmed to the Post that six of the 10
suspects, including Tean, were innocent and would probably be released soon.
Four were guilty of Hadden and Vuthea's murders, he said.
rights investigation has been hampered because the village of Komprum where the
10 suspects were captures is only nominally under government control. Often,
according to local sources, KR soldiers will arrive-"even if its only two or
three"-and the village will be deemed unsafe.
witnesses-such as the commune chief, who may have information on the
circumstances leading to the group's defection, and neighbors - have not been
Tean is the only suspect who has been interviewed in prison
by Adhoc. Rights organizations are trying to get a public defender to
investigate as soon as possible.
The police investigation headed by penal
police chief Colonel Ou Em is finished.
Ou Em told the Post: "This case
seems very clear... there is nothing more for us to do. We have collected our
evidence and written our report to the court."
Siem Reap chief judge Plan
Chhlam said: "The investigation is finished and now we are waiting word from the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the US Embassy, whether the victim (Susan
Hadden's husband William) will ask for money from the criminals who killed his
wife, wounded him and stole his property."
"If the victim does not ask
for compensation there will still be a trial, but the trial will just be
punishment for the crime only, not for compensation," Chhlam said.
said that of the 10 suspects now being held, "Four committed the crime, and six
"Four have already confessed, and among those four two
have also confessed to an earlier crime of robbing the Takeo market," the chief
"Among the six, two ladies will be released soon... another
one is just KR militia and he may be released soon. The other three are former
Khmer Rouge soldiers. This is now after the amnesty, I don't know if they will
be released or not," Chhlam said. "We are waiting word from the Ministry of
Justice on this."
The Haddens left Siem Reap to visit Banteay Srey temple
on Jan 15, with two policemen and their guide, Vuthea. They were the last of a
five car convoy.
A KR ambush crippled the car about eight kilometers from
the temple. The two policemen escaped into the jungle nearby after exchanging
gunfire with the attackers, according to police.
Neither Adhoc nor the
Post have been able to interview the two policemen, one of whom was called Chey
Sa Em. However, Ou Em said he had taken their statements. Authorities have
repeatedly said that there was no police or military complicity in the
Ou Em said that, according to his investigations, "if the two
Americans agreed with the policemen and ran out of the car, they might have been
"They didn't do that, they might not have thought the car was
damaged and (William) Hadden tried to drive it away, but the front wheel was
Police say that Susan Hadden and Vuthea were shot dead in the
car-either in the initial attack or when Mr Hadden tried driving the car away -
while a badly wounded Hadden either played dead or was unconscious at the
Their pockets were emptied after the attack, Ou Em
Chhlam said that the KR policy was to capture American citizens
"without killing them, it was a big mistake they were killed... if they captured
them they were worth 4,000 bath each."
According to Adhoc's statement
from Tean, on Jan 25 she and another wife of a KR soldier visited their husbands
in the jungle to persuade them to defect. The two couples and another six KR
defectors made their way back to Komprum village and met Rin on the
Tean says Rin gave them a Western-style camera to sell. Chhlam said
that it had been made known around outlying villages that government authorities
would buy the camera for a "high price."
Tean says they gave themselves
up willingly as defectors to the commune chief, and that they knew nothing about
Chhlam and Ou Em however said that the group were in the
village when it was surrounded by provincial militia looking for the murderers,
and that the group had no choice but to give themselves up as defectors. Chhlam
said that it was true that Tean had received the camera from Rin.
and possibly some other KR soldiers, could also be culpable "but they didn't
defect," he said.
"It sounds unbelievable but its true. They are
hardliners. They were given an order (to capture the tourists) but they were not
successful, therefore they would likely be killed. The four men had no choice
but to defect," Chhlam said.
Those found guilty of the murders would face
between eight and 20 years in prison; the jail terms for robbery are between
three and five years.
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