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Khmer Rouge fighters jailed over de-miner's murder

Latest update : 2008-10-15

A Cambodian court sentenced three former Khmer Rouge soldiers to 20 years in jail on Tuesday for the murder of British de-miner Christopher Howes and his translator in 1996.

A Cambodian court Tuesday sentenced four former Khmer Rouge guerrillas to up to 20 years in prison over the kidnapping and murder of a British mine clearer and his translator in 1996.
  
Three of the five accused were jailed for 20 years, a fourth for 10 years, while the fifth man was acquitted and released.
  
The international charity Mines Advisory Group, for which the two dead men worked, welcomed the verdict, saying their families were "extremely satisfied with today's outcome."
  
All five -- Khem Ngun, Puth Lim, Loch Mao, Sin Dorn and Cheap Chet -- were arrested over the past year, nearly a decade after a joint investigation into the incident by British and Cambodian police.
  
They proclaimed their innocence when they went on trial two weeks ago over the abduction and murder of Christopher Howes and translator Huon Huot.
  
But the judge convicted Khem Ngun, 58, Puth Lim, 57, and Loch Mao, 56, and sentenced each of them to 20 years in prison, while Sin Dorn, 52, was jailed for 10 years.
  
Judge Iv Kim Sri, reading out the verdict at the Phnom Penh court, ordered the men jointly to pay 10,000 dollars to the families of the victims.
  
Puth Lim again denied involvement. "The verdict is unjust for me. I did not kill them," he told reporters.
  
The fifth man, Cheap Chet, 33, was freed.
  
Howes and Huon Huot were shot a few days after they and the mine clearance team were seized near the famed Angkor Wat temples in northwest Cambodia.
  
At the time, the communist Khmer Rouge were battling government troops in the final years of Cambodia's drawn-out civil war.
  
Howes, 37, refused a chance to leave his kidnapped team of 20 mine clearers to retrieve a ransom.
  
While the rest were eventually released he and Huon Huot were taken deeper into rebel-held territory and killed.
  
Their remains were found in 1998, the same year Cambodia's civil war ended when the Khmer Rouge movement disintegrated.
  
"Today, we feel that justice has been done for our two colleagues who were brutally murdered whilst carrying out life-saving work," Mines Adivsory Group executive Lou McGrath said in a statement issued at the court.

Date created : 2008-10-14

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