Thursday, April 18, 2013

Remembering Christopher Howes & Houn Hourth

Christopher Howes, murdered by the Khmer Rouge in 1996
Seventeen years ago this month, Christopher Howes, a British mine-clearing expert with the Mines Advisory Group lost his life in Anlong Veng, in northern Cambodia. Khmer Rouge forces captured Christopher, his interpreter Houn Hourth and their 20-strong de-mining unit on 26 March 1996. The team were soon released, but the Bristol-born former Royal Engineer and Hourth were kept hostage, with the Cambodian murdered soon after. Christopher was taken to the Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng and was executed a few days later. It took twelve years to track down and bring to justice those responsible and on 14 October 2008, a Cambodian judge convicted four men in the kidnapping and murder of Christopher and Hourth. The guilty verdicts and 20 year jail sentences were handed down to Khem Nguon, who was known to be the deputy commander of the Khmer Rouge forces at Anlong Veng and who ordered the execution, Loch Mao, who witnesses identified as the man who shot Howes, and their driver Puth Lim, who admitted being present at the murder and to burning the body. A fourth defendant, Sin Dorn was found guilty of kidnapping the deminers and received a ten year jail term. For his bravery, Christopher was posthumously awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal and Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk named a street in the capital after him. You can read much more about Christopher, the media reports at that time and the men responsible,  here.

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