The Phnom Penh Municipal Court today will begin the trial of five former Khmer Rouge soldiers charged with the 1996 kidnapping and killing of British deminer Christopher Howes and his Cambodian colleague, according to presiding Judge Iv Kimsry.
An employee of the UK organization Mines Advisory Group, 36-year-old Howes and his Cambodian interpreter Huon Huot were executed in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district following their abduction by Khmer Rouge forces.
In April and May this year, national military police arrested six men for their alleged involvement in Howes and Huon Huot’s deaths—Khim Ngon, Loch Mao, Horm Hai, Cheam Chet, Sin Dorn and Cheas Chon. However, Cheas Chon was released shortly after when the municipal court stated that his arrest was a case of mistaken identity.
“The charged people are five, and they are all former Khmer Rouge,” Iv Kimsry said Thursday by telephone, adding that he was not sure how long the trial would last.
“My idea is that I don’t want to postpone it,” he added.
Cambodian Defenders Project attorney Hong Kimsoun, who represents Chhum Kham, wife of Huon Huot, said by telephone Thursday that the family will seek $50,000 in compensation if the men are found guilty.
Howes’ killing received vast media attention in Cambodia and Britain, and in January 1999, government officials in Phnom Penh changed Street 96 to Christopher Howes Street and erected a large plaque in his honor.
In May 2001, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II presented the Queen’s Gallantry Medal to Howes’ parents.
Officials with MAG could not be reached for comment Thursday.