Top French investigator to probe Cambodia backpacker killings

2nd September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PHNOM PENH, Sept 2 (AFP) - Cambodia reacted coolly Thursday to the reported plans of a top French prosecutor to travel here to examine the 1994 killings of three backpackers, saying its own courts had already found the culprits.

PHNOM PENH, Sept 2 (AFP) - Cambodia reacted coolly Thursday to the reported plans of a top French prosecutor to travel here to examine the 1994 killings of three backpackers, saying its own courts had already found the culprits.  

The Australian newspaper reported that Jean-Louis Bruguiere, credited with jailing notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal, believed the full story of how the Australian, British and French backpackers died was yet to be told and that he wanted to find "all the individuals implicated in this operation."  

Three ex-Khmer Rouge officers have been found guilty of the murders, but one is still living freely while awaiting a supreme court appeal of his life sentence.  

Cambodia's interior ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak told AFP the government had not been informed of Bruguiere's plans and while it would welcome his visit, the case here was effectively closed, barring the last appeal.  

"Actually, the authorities have already investigated the case and presented it to the court and the Cambodian court is quite capable of carrying out investigations alone," he said.   "But anyway, we welcome any visit from him."   

Australian David Wilson, Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet and Briton Mark Slater were kidnapped in a train ambush in a Khmer Rouge stronghold in the south of the country which left 13 Cambodians dead.  

The backpackers were killed several weeks later by the Khmer Rouge, the ultra-Maoists who ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, after negotiations for their release broke down.  

The newspaper report quoted Bruguiere, who was first involved in the case in 1994, as saying he had "relevant information" and was confident that he could uncover more despite the 10-year hiatus.  

"It's not so easy. It's not just a small team involved in the assassination. All the individuals, even those belonging to the government administration, could be involved - in the military forces, in the intelligence forces," he said.  

Chhouk Rin, the ex-officer awaiting his appeal, told AFP he too welcomed a further investigation as it might help him win his case.  

"I am very happy with this news... because I did not join in the killing of the three foreigners," he said, appealing also to the French, Australian and British governments to further investigate.  

"The courts in my country are not independent yet."  

Bruguiere has a 20-year record as an investigating magistrate with successful prosecutions, including of the famous "super-terrorist" Carlos the Jackal, members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Libyan operatives and Islamic militants, The Australian said.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

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