Friday, October 3, 2008

Lest we forget

Today was the long-awaited trial day for the five former Khmer Rouge cadre accused of kidnapping and murdering British de-mining expert Christopher Howes and his Cambodian translator Houn Hourth (pictured) in March 1996. I have covered the events of the abduction and the subsequent rumours, lies, alleged sightings and false alarms that followed - click here - before the true fate of both men was established a couple of years later. Bristol-born Christopher came from my neck of the woods in England and so I have concentrated on him to a large extent in my previous postings. However, we must not forget his heroic translator Houn Hourth, who stayed with his technical advisor when the rest of their de-mining team were released, only to lose his life shortly after, when the Khmer Rouge decided he'd outlived his usefulness. His widow, Chhun Kham was at today's trial, which I also attended, and gave a statement about the impact on her life of her husband's death, asking the court to jail the people responsible and to award her appropriate compensation for their actions. Life has been tough for Hourth's widow and in her statement she reiterates; "Since my husband's death, my family has endured great hardship by lacking money to support the studies of my two sons, clothes, and enough nutition and when occasionally my sons get sick, I have no money to pay for medical bills, so that I need to borrow from someone for this payment. Nowadays, I don't have a job besides selling vegetables at Boeung Chhouk market in Battambang province." Houn Hourth was part of the Mines Advisory Group de-mining team that was helping to make Cambodia a safer place when he was kidnapped and murdered, he deserves justice and so does his widow.
[photos courtesy of Mrs Chhun Kham]

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