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Tuesday, 18 January, 2000, 10:47 GMT
Khmer Rouge leader arrested

Mark Slater and Jean Michel Brequet Murdered: Mark Slater and Jean Michel Brequet


A former Khmer Rouge commander, who later defected to the Cambodian army, has been arrested in connection with the kidnap and murder of three Western tourists snatched from a train.

Chhouk Rin was detained near an old Khmer Rouge base where Australian David Wilson, Briton Mark Slater and Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet were imprisoned and killed.

They were abducted in July 1994 when a band of guerrillas ambushed their train en route from Phnom Penh to the seaside town of Sihanoukville.


Chhouk Rin Chhouk Rin: One of the first to defect

The rebels killed at least 10 Cambodians in the attack before marching the three backpackers and several other passengers to the Khmer Rouge's southern base at Vine Mountain.

Shallow grave

The backpackers, all in their 20s, were killed several months later after negotiations for their release broke down.

Their bodies were found buried in shallow graves when the army stormed the base.

The Khmer Rouge commander at Vine Mountain, Nuon Paet, was jailed for life last October for his role in the slayings.


Nuon Paet at trial Nuon Paet said killings were ordered by his superiors

Military police chief General Sao Sokha said Chhouk Rin was arrested at his home on Monday and was now in prison in the capital Phnom Penh.

Chhouk Rin was one of the first prominent Khmer Rouge figures to defect during the long civil war and was rewarded with a senior army position.

A third Khmer Rouge commander, Sam Bith, who is now a general in the army, has also been charged with the killings, but has not yet been arrested.

During his trial, Nuon Paet, said it was Sam Bith who had ordered the tourists to be slaughtered.

Tribunal

An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died during the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror in the late 1970s.

Chhouk Rin's arrest comes as Cambodia and the United Nations negotiate on setting up a tribunal to try Khmer Rouge leaders.

However, critics fear several prominent figures will avoid prosecution because of defection deals struck with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

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See also:
07 Jun 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Life sentence for Khmer Rouge leader
01 Aug 98 |  Asia-Pacific
Cambodian police arrest tourists' killer
14 May 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Cambodia's chief executioner charged
10 May 99 |  Asia-Pacific
UN official to meet Khmer Rouge killer
06 Mar 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Bringing the Khmer Rouge to justice
08 Sep 98 |  Asia-Pacific
Cambodia's troubled history

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