Four jailed over mine worker's murder

Four former Khmer Rouge fighters have been sentenced to jail for their involvement in the notorious murder of a British mines-clearance expert in Cambodia.

A court in Phnom Penh today found the men guilty of premeditated murder and kidnapping over the killing of Christopher Howes and his translator, Houn Hourth, in 1996. Three of the men were sentenced to 20 years and a fourth to 10 years imprisonment. A fifth defendant was acquitted.

Mr Howes, originally from Bristol, had been working with the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to help clear hundreds of thousands of mines and other ordnance that still litter Cambodia's countryside after decades of conflict. He was seized by Khmer Rouge fighters close to the famed Angkor Wat temple complex, killed and his body then doused with diesel and cremated. His remains were not discovered for two years. His translator was likewise killed.

The convictions follow more than a decade of investigation by the Cambodian authorities and Scotland Yard detectives. During the investigation it emerged that Mr Howes, 37, a former soldier, had been given the chance to secure his own freedom by collecting a ransom for other MAG employees seized by the militants. Instead he refused to leave them and more than 30 of his colleagues were subsequently released.

Last night, Mr Howes' family and colleagues said they were pleased the wait for justice was over. “We never sought revenge but we're pleased the murderers of Christopher and Houn have been brought into account,” said his sister, Patricia Phillips. His 85-year-old father, Roy, said: “I'm delighted. They are wicked men - the very worst. I hope they never come out, I hope we will never see them again.”

While the court convicted four men - Khem Ngun, Loch Mao, Put Lim and Sin Dorn - some uncertainty may remain about precisely who carried out the killings of the two mine clearance workers. Three of the five defendants testified that two other Khmer Rouge guerrillas - now believed to be dead - were responsible for the murders and that a Khmer Rouge commander called Khem Tem ordered the shooting. Put Lim, who was the driver of Khem Ngun, said the verdict was unjust. “I have not committed the killing of the two men,” he told reporters.

But MAG's chief executive, Lou McGrath, said he believed justice had been done. “For over twelve years the families of our colleagues have been fighting for this verdict and we are all extremely satisfied with today's outcome,” he added.

The Maoist-inspired Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975 and ruled for four brutal years during which up to a third of the population were either killed or died from starvation and disease. By the mid-1990s the last remnants of the organisation was fighting for survival in the west of the country. A number of senior Khmer Rouge soldiers and officials later joined subsequent Cambodian governments.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam