The brother of an American yachtsman captured off the coast of Cambodia and executed by the brutal Khmer Rouge 10 years ago said Saturday he is flying to Cambodia to retrieve his brother's remains.
Karl Deeds, 36, of Long Beach, Calif., is one of the first foreigners permitted by Vietnam and the Phnom Penh regime to enter Cambodia in an attempt to identify and repatriate the remains of a loved one slain by the Khmer Rouge during their four-year reign of terror.Vietnamese forces rolled into Phnom Penh on Jan. 7, 1979, less than two weeks after launching a blitzkrieg invasion of Cambodia to oust Pol Pot's radical communist Khmer Rouge, under which 1 to 2 million Cambodians and an unknown number of foreigners died.
Deeds was a U.S. Navy medic stationed at Subic Bay in the Philippines when his older brother Michael was captured on Nov. 26, 1978 off the coast of Cambodia near Kompong Som, about 100 miles southwest of Phnom Penh.
Just two days before Vietnamese troops captured Phnom Penh, Michael signed a statement at the infamous Tuol Sleng prison in the capital. The time of his execution and the location of his remains is uncertain.
The Vietnamese-installed regime in Phnom Penh converted the prison into a museum of Khmer Rouge atrocities and made a former prison maintenance man the museum's curator.
The curator said a foreigner, possibly Deeds's brother Michael, was among the last 14 prisoners killed by Pol Pot's men before they fled the invading Vietnamese.
"The curator of the museum believes my brother was buried on the grounds," Deeds said.
"I ve brought dental records and pictures to try and narrow down the search," he said. "I'm optimistic."
Deeds said he is emotionally prepared for the ordeal.
"I ve read the accounts of what they went through, the types of tortures, and seen pictures of the thousands of skulls so I have some conditioning," Deeds said. "But I don't know how I'll react."
Deeds intends to seek the help of Vietnamese pathologists at Ho Chi Minh City University who recently categorized the remains of about 8,000 Khmer Rouge victims buried in mass graves outside of Phnom Penh, including at least 16 foreigners.
The trip to Cambodia is the culmination of nine years of efforts to locate his brother's remains.