T WO Khmer Rouge guerrillas have been sentenced to lengthy jail terms for the
Siem Reap murder of American tourist Susan Hadden after their pleas of innocence
Kong Chhoeun, 36, was sentenced to 18 years prison, while
Sok Klouk, 28, received a 15-year sentence.
Both were charged with the
murder of Hadden, 50, from Texas, who was killed last January when her tour
convoy was ambushed on the way to the Banteay Srey temple. Hadden's husband,
William, 54, was seriously wounded and later evacuated to
Before their convictions in the Siem Reap court on August 8,
both Chhoeun and Klouk denied taking part in the shooting in the
"I came with a unit of 15 [KR] fighters but I didn't open fire,"
said Klouk, accused of committing a "premeditated crime".
being present at the ambush, which he said was ordered by his commander because
of a food shortage. "We didn't have rice to eat."
Klouk said he recalled
seeing three rebel comrades rifling through the Haddens' vehicle. He said his
commander later gave him a camera, binoculars and film to barter for rice for
the group. He said he was arrested while trying to defect to the government,
using the opportunity to go to Siem Reap to barter the goods.
meanwhile, also proclaimed his innocence of murder.
He said he had
traveled with the ambush group but "I didn't go to the road because my rifle had
only three rounds - I heard gunfire and I saw the smoke later."
prosecution tendered evidence including four AK47 rifles, one M16 and a B40
grenade launcher allegedly used in the ambush.
Three other rebels faced
charges of being members of the outlawed Khmer Rouge. Two of them - still at
large after escaping from Siem Reap prison during a mass break-out last May -
were sentenced in absentia to 20 years jail. The trial of the remaining man was
continuing at press time.
The Siem Reap trial followed the sentencing of
a former KR guerrilla to 15 years jail for the murder of three Westerners near
Sihanoukville last year. Chuon Mean, 30, had confessed to killing Australian
Kellie Wilkinson, 24, her British boyfriend Dominic Chappell, 25, and friend
Tina Dominy, 24, from Britain.
At Mean's trial at Sihanoukville Court on
July 26, his defender argued the rebel had just been following orders. Defender
Heng Pung said KR commander Sam Bo had ordered the killings, and threatened his
fighters with death if they did not commit them. Three other KR, including Sam
Bo, were sentenced in absentia to terms ranging from 16 to 20
Wilkinson, Chappell and Dominy were taken hostage on April 11,
1994 when their taxi was stopped at a KR checkpoint as it headed toward
Sihanoukville. They were killed the next day.
Relatives and foreign
diplomats were satisfied with the sentence.
"I think it's a very fair
result, justice has been seen to be done," said David Chappell, father of