K EP, Kampot - Senior Khmer Rouge defector Chhouk Rin, living in a ruined villa in Kep and driving a Russian jeep, says he is being kept busy using persuasion - not guns - against his former rebel comrades.
Rin, who led the July train ambush which netted three foreign tourists later killed by the KR, said he was playing a key role in encouraging guerrillas to defect to the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.
"I am very grateful to the Royal government for trusting me," Rin, now an RCAF Colonel, told the Post on December 20. "I will work with the government forever."
"I have neither a (government) position nor an office, but I am still happy with the government...I am getting fatter and fatter from day to day."
While he had no official position yet, he said he was frequently being called upon to try to persuade rebels in KR strongholds under RCAF attack to defect.
"I have had no time to rest since the day I defected," he said in a radio interview from Bokor mountain, north of Kampot town, where he had been assigned to contact KR guerrillas to urge them to surrender.
Rin - instrumental in prompting mass defections from his former Phnom Vour (Vine Mountain) KR base and, more recently, from the Koh Sla stronghold which recently fell to the RCAF - said he no longer used a gun.
"I played an important role in persuading guerrillas to defect...I never used arms during both (battles).
"I fear to be killed but I have to do this to show my sincerity to the Royal government."
Rin said he did not think the government would take him to court for the July 26 train ambush - which saw 13 Khmers and Vietnamese killed and the three Westerners taken hostage to Phnom Vour - but would stand trial if required to.
The governments of the three men - Briton Mark Slater, Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet and Australian David Wilson - have demanded that all responsible for their abduction and murder be brought to justice.
"I defected to the Royal government in an amnesty time," said Rin, "so everything that happened in the past is the Khmer Rouge's responsibility, not mine.
"I work very hard for the government. I am not Khmer Rouge any more."
All he had done in the past had been on his KR superiors' orders, he said.
"When I lived with the Khmer Rouge, I had to abide by Khmer Rouge policy...otherwise I would have been killed. Now I live with the Royal government, I have to respect government policy."
RCAF soldiers and civilians who knew Rin described him as a popular, kind and quiet commander.
"He doesn't smoke and drink but he likes people who drink and smoke," said Rat Set. "When he saw me and other soldiers drinking, he bought drinks for us.
"I like him very much...if the Royal government asked or forced him to go to trial, I will go instead of him," he volunteered.