Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Peace man arrested - for making windchimes

Peace man arrested - for making windchimes

Peace man arrested - for making windchimes

peace.jpg
peace.jpg

Peace Cafe owner David Finch with his son, Sokheng, and late wife, Jeun Sokha.

A British expatriate, David Finch, was arrested by military police in early August

while he was in a metal workshop watching two decommissioned assault rifles being

cut up to create windchimes.

"The whole thing was a complete misunderstanding," said Finch, the owner

of Sokha's Peace Cafe in Phnom Penh, after his release along with the burnt AK-47s.

He explained that the rifles were being made into an anti-weapons display for his

cafe.

The guns, along with 5,500 others, were recently decommissioned by EUASAC, an EU

body that assists with destroying light weapons in Cambodia, in a 'flames of peace'

gun burning ceremony in Kampong Cham.

Finch was given the guns by EUASAC because of his close involvement with the Working

Group for Weapons Reduction (WGWR), for which he raises donations and distributes

information.

Meanwhile, Sok Sethamony, the judge investigating the killing of Finch's wife earlier

this year, told the Post that he had completed his four month investigation. He added

that he was ready to hand the brief to Nop Sophon, deputy prosecutor of Phnom Penh's

Municipal Court, when Sophon returned from Thailand.

Two suspects arrested shortly after the killing and now in Prey Sar prison, have

had preliminary charges laid against them, the most serious of which is voluntary

manslaughter.

Finch's wife, Jeun Sokha, was killed by a grenade fragment earlier this year, the

innocent victim of an argument at a karaoke bar next to their original Peace Cafe

near Boeng Kak Lake. Since then Finch has focused on bringing his wife's killers

to justice.

"I want my wife's death to leave a legacy, which is to establish legal principles,"

Finch said. "Firstly, and simply, that people can't throw handgrenades in the

street, and secondly to challenge the notions of cultural violence and impunity within

society."

WGWR lobbies the government to regulate the trade and use of weapons and advocates

the destruction of illegal weapons. It also runs programs to educate and change the

culture of using weapons as a solution to solving problems.

Heang Path, monitoring and information project officer with WGWR, said that cultural

violence was relatively new to Cambodian society and had its origins in the Khmer

Rouge regime. The years of civil war that followed had merely reinforced this.

"In Pol Pot's time we were children and trained to kill," said Path. "Children's

minds were shaped with violence."

He added that Cambodian people of all ages had experienced killings, threats and

abuses during the war.

"They have become used to killing and do not recognize it as something special.

Buddhist beliefs that killing is a sin have been overpowered by 30 years of war."

The British Embassy said it was monitoring the case. Finch and his son, 21-month-old

Sokheng, are British nationals.

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