FORMER Khmer Rouge commander Nuon Paet is scheduled to go to court on August 30 for
his appeal hearing. Paet was sentenced last year to life imprisonment for his involvement
in the kidnapping and slaying of three western backpackers in 1994.
At his trial in June last year, Paet pleaded innocent to all charges, which included
murdering the three hostages. Paet said the order to kill the backpackers came from
his superior Sam Bit and was carried out by military chief Vith Vorn.
When the Post met Paet in Prey Sor prison the day before Chhouk Rin's July 18 trial,
Paet maintained his innocence.
"The hostages had been dead for three days when I found out that they had been
killed. The KR leadership didn't trust me with the prisoners, because I had released
other people before. When I released an American woman hostage, the leaders accused
me of being involved with the Americans," Paet said outside the cell he shares
with one other prisoner.
Paet was the KR commander at Phnom Vour where the backpackers were held. He never
formally defected to the government like Bit and Rin. Coincidentally, the date of
his appeal hearing marks the six-years anniversary of the deadline for delivering
the ransom for the three hostages.