Former Phnom Voar Khmer Rouge Commander Dies
Posted by khmernews on February 25, 2008
Phnom Penh: Sam Bith, a former Khmer Rouge commander, died in Calmette Hospital after he was sentenced in 2002 to life in prison for the slaying of 3 foreigners. Sam Bith’s wife, Khim Ry, 56, told Kampuchea Thmey February 16 at Calmette Hospital that her husband had been brought to the hospital for more than one month, but that since his illnesses were too serious, he passed away. She said that her husband had suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes, and paralytic illness which he had not been able to do anything for 3 years. “He even urinated and defecated on the bed, unable to walk like ordinary people,” she said.
She continued that her husband had been hospitalized for many times after he caught those illnesses. “Sometimes, he was taken to Preah Monivong Hospital near Central Market, and sometimes, he was brought to Calmette Hospital,” she said, “But because of his serious ailments, he could not be saved [by doctors], and died at 21.30 on February 15, 2008 in Calmette Hospital.” Sam Bith’s widow claimed that she had nothing to complaint, adding that the demise was due to his chronic illnesses.
Bith Rem, 40, daughter of Sam Bith who was former Khmer Rouge commander of southwestern region (Phnom Voar), told Kampuchea Thmey that her father was arrested on May 25, 2002 in Battambang and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 3 foreigners. She, however, claimed that her father had not committed the crime he was charged with.
Bith Rem said that the arrest of her father had been made while he was holding the positions as an adviser to and major general of the Ministry of Defense, assigned by the royal government after integration in 1996. She said that even since the integration in 1996, her father had worked for the Ministry of Defense. However, in 2002 he was caught by the government forces on charges of killing 3 foreign backpackers, she said.
Khim Ry, Sam Bith’s wife, said that she did not remember the exact date of her marriage, but could only remember that she and her husband had been married before the Khmer Rouge regime in Damnak Snuol village, Srae Knong commune, [Chum Kiri district], Kampot province. They have only one daughter, Bith Rem. After the fall of Democratic Kampuchea, she fled to live in Samlot near Thai border while her husband was still struggling and was appointed commander of Southwestern region (Phnom Voar).
Concerning the killing of 3 foreigners, she claimed that when the foreigners were slain, her husband was being treated his illnesses in Thailand and that he did not know about it. She had asked her husband to confirm whether he had commanded his soldiers to execute the foreigners, but he said he had not. For this reason, she was urged to complaint against the arrest of her husband.
Sam Bith was arrested by the government forces on April 25, 2002 in Sdau village, Sdau commune, Rotonak Mondol district, Battambang province, in which he and his wife were residing, and sentenced to life in prison with other two Khmer Rouge commanders, Chhouk Rin and Nuon Paet (presently held in Prey Sar prison), on charges of the murder of the 3 foreigners, Australian David Wilson, Briton Mark Slater and Frenchman Jean Michel Braquet, in 1994. The 3 tourists were held hostages while they were travelling in a train through Phnom Voar area. Nuon Paeth, Chhouk Rin, and Sam Bith are said to be the strongest Khmer Rouge commanders in Phnom Voar region. They ordered their soldiers to ambush trains almost everyday, which led to the killing of the 3 foreigners.
Sam Bith’s body was examined by the authority and then given to his family for a funeral ceremony in Rotonak Mondol, Battambang. At the mortuary in Calmette Hospital, his family were sitting and burning [silver and golden] papers as Chinese-related descendants. Journalists are not allowed to take pictures of his body in the mortuary, but are waiting to take pictures when his body is sent away.
-Extracted from Kampuchea Thmey, vol. 07, #1570, Sunday-Monday, February 17-18, 2008.