Phnom Penh Municipal Court officials have charged a sixth suspect in the killing of a British mine clearance specialist and his Cambodian colleague, who are believed to have been slain by Khmer Rouge rebels in 1996.
Municipal Court Deputy Director Ke Sakhorn said Sunday that Puth Lim, 52, has been charged with premeditated killing, illegal confinement and involvement with Democratic Kampuchea in relation to the killing of Christopher Howes and translator Huon Hourth, who were employed by the British NGO Mine Advisory Group.
Howes, who was 36 at the time, and Huon Hourth were apparently abducted by Khmer Rouge fighters on March 26, 1996, while clearing landmines in Siem Reap’s Angkor Thom district.
The pair were taken north to Anlong Veng and are believed to have been killed not long after.
Puth Lim, who had been in hiding for years in Anlong Veng, was arrested in Kampot province by national military police on May 15, Ke Sakhorn said, adding that the suspect is currently awaiting trial at Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh. He said the case had been transferred from the Siem Reap Provincial Court to the Phnom Penh court because there were believed to be former Khmer Rouge leaders in Siem Reap who would have made investigations difficult.
Puth Lim “was fleeing constantly. He was in hiding…. He has a strong belief and loved Pol Pot so much. He was Pol Pot’s graveyard keeper,” Ke Sakhorn said, adding that Puth Lim has already confessed to transporting the two victims to their execution on the order of Khmer Rouge military commander Ta Mok.
“He confessed that he was the driver…. He confessed that there were more people implicated in the crime, but he only named nicknames. It will take time for further investigation,” Ke Sakhorn said.
British Embassy press officer Kim Chantha said Sunday that the embassy welcomes news of the arrest, but declined further comment because the investigation is still ongoing.
In addition to Puth Lim, five other suspects are being detained for the killings.
A seventh man, Cheas Chorn, who was arrested in April, was released May 1 in a case of mistaken identity.