AIDS, malaria and liver disease – grounds for pardon for multiple murders?
Legal systems worldwide are open to abuse because of design. Cambodia is no exception to the rule. Despite convictions, defeated appeals and supreme court judgments on a multiple murder charge, former Khmer Rouge Commander Chhouk Rin, who was convicted of the murder of three Western backpackers in 1994, is to ask King Norodom Sihamoni for a pardon. His basis for requesting a pardon has nothing to do with any questions of guilt or evidential concerns, bit that Chhoul Rin is seriously ill with AIDS, malaria and liver disease.
While one can espouse sympathy for Rin’s condition, given the severity of the crime, it will be difficult to warrant a pardon. Rin was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Briton Mark Slater, Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet and Australian David Wilson in 1994 after ambushing the train on which the three were travelling. It will be interesting to see how King Norodom Sihamoni reacts but one feel that clemency here would not sit too well for either domestic or international audiences.
Chhouk Rin’s lawyer, Puth Theavy, said Thursday that he would ask the King to pardon his client on the grounds that he has fallen seriously ill after contracting AIDS, malaria and liver disease.“I will submit a document requesting the King pardon [Chhouk Rin] before the Water Festival this year,” he said.The conviction against Chhouk Rin, 56, on charges of terrorism, robbery and murder, for which he received a life sentence, was upheld by the Supreme Court in February 2005.Two other former Khmer Rouge military officials, Nuon Paet and his now deceased former provincial commander, Sam Bith, also received life sentences for the killings.Heng Hak, director general of the Interior Ministry’s prisons department, said prisoners convicted for life need to serve at least 20 years of their sentence before they can be considered for a pardon.Chhouk Rin was convicted in absentia in 2000, but he was not apprehended by authorities until October 2005. He has served less than five years of his sentence.