Guerilla subjected to glare of media

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 July, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 July, 1995, 12:00am

IN the glare of the television lights, killer Chuon Mean looked almost childlike, wearing blue prison pyjamas and flipflops.

He had been held in a grubby cell for almost a month, and as the only one of the killers captured, found himself the focus of foreign cameramen and reporters crowded into the steamy courtroom.

After the judge entered, Mean, flanked by armed police officers, was marched to the front of the court where he stood in the full glare of camera lights before being told he was being tried for premeditated murder.

'He is not stupid or crazy, just uneducated, he understood the orders,' the prosecutor told the court.

Mean said they were not targeting foreigners. It just happened that the victims' car was stopped.

He went on to distance himself further from the murders by saying that he took nothing from the three victims and did not tie them up.

Six witnesses gave evidence during the three-hour trial, among them the man who housed the hostages and their captors the night they were kidnapped.

The difficulty Mean had in trying to find a lawyer to defend him was an indication of the fear and loathing the Khmer Rouge could still muster in Cambodia and among the international community.

Eventually, a local human rights group was found to supply a paralegal.