The Peace Corps made a major mistake in choosing a host for one of their volunteers in Cambodia. The Phnom Penh Post, an English-language daily newspaper in the Southeast Asian country reported,
A current volunteer for the United States’ Peace Corps program in Cambodia lived with alleged Khmer Rouge war criminal Meas Muth for several months last year as part of his official service in Battambang’s Samlot district, the program has acknowledged.
Muth, 76, lives freely despite being charged in Case 003 by the Khmer Rouge tribunal for allegedly executing, enslaving and torturing enemies of the regime, including many foreigners, during his time as one of the Khmer Rouge’s top commanders.
But that history didn’t stop the Peace Corps from selecting Muth’s son, Meas Sophors, as the host “father” for volunteer Ben Larracey in 2013.
On March 3, Khmer Rouge tribunal investigating judge Mark Harmon charged Muth in absentia with “murder, extermination, enslavement, imprisonment, persecution on political and ethnic grounds, and other inhumane acts” for actions the former navy commander allegedly committed at the S-21 and Wat Enta Nhien security centres, on islands, and at sea.
The Peace Corps claim they have a “very extensive” vetting process, which apparently doesn’t include checking if the families they are entrusting American volunteers to have a history of murdering foreigners.
In 1978, a boat carrying several foreigners drifted into Cambodian waters. The terrifying tale of how those on board, Canadians and a New Zealander, were captured, tortured and killed, is told in the book Foxy Lady and also by the Daily Mail.
As naval commander, Muth certainly had an outsized role in the deaths of these three innocent Western boaters, as he did in the deaths of over two million Cambodians who were worked, starved and beaten to death over the course of the Khmer Rouge’s Communist role in the late 1970s. During their rule, the American government was portrayed explicitly as an enemy of the regime.
Despite this, the war criminal was more than happy to take money in exchange for hosting the American volunteer. It seems capitalism and America are only the enemies when it isn’t financially advantageous.
Luckily the American volunteer was safe during his time in the mass murderer’s home. His placement begs the question, however, how much vetting the Peace Corps is really doing to ensure the safety of young, impressionable and vulnerable volunteers in the program.