Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Canadian journalist who covered Khmer Rouge missing in Cambodia

25 February 2014

A Canadian journalist and filmmaker who was reporting about atrocities under the former Khmer Rouge government has gone missing in Cambodia.

Dave Walker, a Canadian freelance journalist and film producer who lived in Cambodia, disappeared Feb. 14 from a guest house in the northern city of Siem Reap, the Edmonton Journal said.

He left his room so that the hotel's housekeeping staff could clean it, leaving behind his mobile phone, laptop and passport, news reports said.

"I think something is wrong. I don't think he would just leave, with his phone on the charger, and go somewhere," Sonny Chhoun, who co-founded a film company with Walker, told the Phnom Penh Post. Chhuon said he had checked for Walker in local clinics and hotels but had not been able to locate him.

According to some reports, Walker was working on a film about a man who saved scores of families from the Khmer Rouge, which killed an estimated 2 million people during its rule in the late 1970s.

Walker may also have been working on an investigative documentary about former Khmer Rouge war criminals living in exile in North America, according to the Canadian newspaper National Post.

Walker's friend Peter Vronsky told the Toronto-based newspaper National Post that he was worried about someone wanting to "silence" the journalist because of his efforts to track down former Khmer Rouge.

Walker’s disappearance comes as an international tribunal continues to investigate war crimes during the Khmer Rouge era. Walker’s war criminal investigative project, titled The Man From Year Zero, may have led him to danger.

"It's possible that he scared some guy," Vronsky told the National Post. "They're now hauling these guys into court who, for 20 years, have been walking free and giving press interviews. And suddenly now there's a whole series of trials taking place."

Alan Parkhouse, the editor of the Phnom Penh Post told the Post that Walker was not working on any stories that would make former Khmer Rouge want to "silence" him. "Quite the opposite, in fact," he told the daily. “It was an unusual story in that the Khmer Rouge leader of the village was actually a nice guy, and still is.”

Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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