The Appeals Court on Thursday demanded that former Khmer Rouge commander Chhouk Rin pay $170,000 to the families of three Western backpackers killed following a 1994 train hijacking in Kampot province, two lawyers said Friday.
Lawyer Lim Eng Ratanak, who represents the father of French victim Jean-Michel Braquet, said Judge Oum Sarith ordered Chhouk Rin to pay his client Jean-Claude Braquet $70,000, and to pay the families of Australian national David Wilson and British national Mark Slater $50,000 each.
Chhouk Rin was in 2002 sentenced in absentia to life in prison for the train attack in which 13 Cambodians were killed and the three backpackers kidnapped and later executed. He was arrested in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district in October.
Lim Eng Ratanak said the judge ordered Chhouk Rin to pay significantly smaller compensation to the families of the Cambodian victims, though he said he wasn’t sure of the total sum.
“Some get $10,000, some get $5,000, and some get [$50], according to the damage,” said Lim Eng Ratanak, adding that foreigners were slated for more compensation because they spent more travelling to Cambodia for the trials.
Puth Theavy, Chhouk Rin’s lawyer, confirmed the amounts to be paid to the Western victims, but said that his client does not have the money to pay.
Oum Sarith could not be contacted, while Saly Theara, a judge at the court, said he was not involved in the hearing and had no information on it.
Chhouk Rin’s longtime friend Linda McKinney, a US national and Kampot resident, called the compensation demands “silly.”
“Chhouk Rin has no assets and his family is poor…this has more to do with politics than with a functioning judicial system,” she said.
Chhouk Rin’s brother, Chhouk Korb, laughed when told of the demands.
“There is no money,” Chhouk Korb said from Kampot’s Phnom Voar. “All of his land has already been sold. His house, with the land, is worth only about $5,000 to $6,000.”
He added that people in Phnom Voar have lost interest in the case.
“The court just issued the verdict but we already stopped caring about it,” he said.