Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - More charges against Nuon Paet prompts fear among former Khmer Rouge

More charges against Nuon Paet prompts fear among former Khmer Rouge

More charges against Nuon Paet prompts fear among former Khmer Rouge

paet.gif
paet.gif

FORMER Khmer Rouge general Nuon Paet is to face more charges for crimes

he allegedly committed before defecting to the government.

Currently Paet is in Phnom Penh's T3 prison facing charges for murdering

three westerners who had been kidnapped off a train in Kampot in 1994. The

latest charges relate to attacks on Khmers.

Briton Mark Slater, Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet and Australian David Wilson

were traveling to Kampong Som when they were seized by a group of Khmer

Rouge rebels lead by Chhouk Rin. Rin, who has since defected and is living

in Chamkar Bei in Kampot, later gave the three hostages up to his commander,

Paet.

Information Ministry Secretary of State, Khieu Kanharith, said this week

that additional charges were being prepared relating to two kidnappings

of businessmen, and the massacre of 100 Khmer saw- millers three years ago.

"The case of Nuon Paet is not finished yet.

"He doesn't just have the problem of the killing of three foreigners,"

Kanharith said.

The additional charges are believed to have been formulated after information

was provided by Khmer Rouge defectors in Koh Sla, in Kampot.

Yet Chariya, prosecutor of the Phnom Penh City court, said the investigating

judge Um Sarith, who is also the chief of Phnom Penh court, is trying to

collect evidence and witnesses for Paet's trial.

"The case is a hard one to work on because the problem happened during

the Khmer Rouge time, a long time ago," he said.

Meanwhile Paet's arrest after he had some months previously defected to

the government has upset other defectors, who now fear they maybe targeted.

These concerns are bound to rise following the announcement of charges against

Paet that relate to attacks on Khmers.

Paet's arrest for his part in the deaths of three westerners was written

off by many as political expediency a desire by the government to appease

three powerful western nations.

Paet was arrested a short time after the election when he was enticed to

Phnom Penh from his Pailin home with the promise of a meeting with the Hun

Sen.

These additional charges are likely to be seen as opening a Pandora's box.

Chhouk Rin (pictured)

was particularly critical of Paet's arrest, saying that it had bred mistrust

of the government among defectors.

"I believe that the arrest of Nuon Paet saw the people lose confidence

in the government," he said.

He added that the arrest was not fair because Paet was only following orders.

"I don't praise the people who arrested Nuon Paet. He just followed

orders from his bosses.

"If they went to arrest his bosses I would have praised them.

"People should know whatever work Paet had done during the Khmer Rouge

time was due to orders of the high-ranking members of the Khmer Rouge. He

could not make his own decisions.

"[If the government was going to arrest Paet] it should have arrested

him when he was in the hills. [But ] Nuon Paet has been in the government

for two years now. It was not good that they arrested him after all that

time.

"I don't understand what kind of game that the Cambodian politicians

are playing."

Rin then said he did not want to discus politics anymore because it could

lead to "the flames of civil war burning the country again."

Prison authorities at T3 said that Paet has settled into prison life and

gets on well with the other prisoners.

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