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Sunday, March 29, 2009

2 dead following Big Lake shooting, police chase

I-94 near St. Cloud was shut down for several hours after a Big Lake man killed his girlfriend's son and then himself.

By ABBY SIMONS and RANDY FURST, Star Tribune


Racing down Interstate 94 near St. Cloud in the early morning hours, his injured girlfriend held hostage in the car, Peter Tek made a final phone call.

He told his ex-wife that he had killed his girlfriend’s son and implied to his son, Phath Bauer, that he was going to kill himself. “Boy, boy, I’m very sorry,” he said to his son. “I won’t be there to see you and your sister grow up, and for that I’m very sorry.”

Less than two hours later, still sitting in the Lincoln Navigator parked alongside the barricaded freeway, Tek released his girlfriend, shot himself in the head and died.

Authorities said that Tek killed Savang Sath, 27, at the family’s home at 1010 Eagle Lake Rd. in Big Lake. He shot himself near where Stearns County Rd. 6 crosses I-94 at about
5:40 a.m.

A 2-mile stretch of the freeway near the standoff scene was closed and traffic detoured for about two hours, police reported.

His girlfriend suffered head injuries and is hospitalized, but is expected to recover, police said. According to Tek’s brother, Cheth Tek, Peter Tek was divorced and had been living with his girlfriend and her son for four years in Big Lake.

Big Lake police chief Sean Rifenberick said there had been previous domestic violence calls to the house, but he was not sure whether they involved Peter Tek. Rifenberick said there had been a social services complaint involving children being removed from the home but said he did not know the details.

According to Cheth Tek, Peter Tek and his girlfriend attended a party and got home at about 2 a.m. on Saturday. Authorities said there was an argument between Tek and two adult females at the residence around 2:45 a.m. An argument ensued between Tek and Sath and Tek shot Sath twice. He held two females in the house hostage for 20 minutes, then left with Sath’s mother.

Police were called at 3:08 a.m.; deputies found Sath’s body and were told Tek was in a Lincoln Navigator.

At 3:22 a.m., Wright County deputies spotted him pumping gas at a Holiday station in Monticello. When he saw the deputies approach, he got into the Lincoln, and headed toward I-94 in Monticello with the deputies chasing him.

Phath said he didn’t realize until after the cell phone call that his father was indicating that he planned to kill himself. “He expressed his love for me, my sister and my mom. I told him, 'I love you, too, dad.’”

Phath said that his father told his mother that the incident began with an argument between his father and girlfriend, there was a physical confrontation, and then his girlfriend’s son began to beat him. Phath said he did not know where the gun came from but did not believe it was his father’s because his father didn’t like guns and despised hunting.

Nonetheless, Phath said his father told his mother that he pointed the gun at Sath and shot him. He said he told his mother, “I didn’t know it was loaded.”

Besides Phath, Peter is survived by a 15-year-old daughter and his parents.

Cheth Tek said that the Tek family had come from Cambodia in the early 1980s.

Peter Tek’s parents and Cheth live in Savage. “My mom cried,” Cheth Tek said. He said that his older brother had gone through war that engulfed Cambodia in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s before they fled to Thailand in 1976 and lived in a refugee camp. He had visited Cambodia a month ago on a church mission, according to Cheth.

Peter Tek was a press operator who had worked for 20 years at Vertis Communications in Shakopee, a printing company, according to a co-worker who asked not to be identified because he did not know whether he was authorized by the company to speak. Tek had been on vacation and was expected to return next week.

“He was a really good guy,” the co-worker said. “Everybody liked him.”

asimons@startribune.com 612-673-4921
rfurst@startribune.com 612-673-7382
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Cambodia's KRouge prison chief to address court

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodia's UN-backed genocide tribunal this week resumes the trial of the Khmer Rouge's former prison chief, who is expected to admit his role in the "Killing Fields" horrors three decades ago.

When proceedings began last month, lawyers for Kaing Guek Eav -- better known as Duch -- said he would use the court to publicly ask forgiveness for his role in the 1975 to 1979 regime which killed up to two million people.

"It is an enormously important moment in the history of Cambodia," said tribunal spokeswoman Helen Jarvis. "People have been waiting for a long time, and the process will unfold over the next couple of months."

Former maths teacher Duch, 66, is one of five Khmer Rouge leaders who have been detained by the court and judges on Monday will read his charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and pre-meditated murder.

The court plans to invite Duch to personally address allegations he oversaw the torture and extermination of more than 15,000 men, women and children when he headed Phnom Penh's notorious Tuol Sleng prison, known as S-21.

"It's unique that we will spend months hearing evidence and testing it at a trial for charges that he has admitted to," said Richard Rogers, head of the Khmer Rouge tribunal's defence office.

Duch, a born-again Christian, has consistently admitted personal responsibility at Tuol Sleng since he was arrested in 1999, although maintains he did not personally torture or murder prisoners.

Most welcome the idea that Duch will at least partially confess in the court, which is seen as the last hope to deal with Khmer Rouge crimes.

"A confession is a good thing for Duch to do. If Duch pleads guilty, I will be eased in my heart," said Vann Nath, who is one of the handful who survived Tuol Sleng because his skills as an artist were deemed useful for the regime.

"We will get a kind of justice -- not compensation -- but justice that can heal our mind when the court convicts Duch and he receives the punishment," Vann Nath added.

Duch faces a maximum term of life in prison by the tribunal, which does not have the power to impose the death penalty.

The defence appears to hope that testimony by Duch will earn him a reduced prison sentence.

"The question is: What is the appropriate punishment for a man who's confessed to terrible crimes, assisted the process of justice and asked for forgiveness?" Rogers said.

The Khmer Rouge, led by "Brother Number One" Pol Pot, emptied Cambodia's cities during its time in power, exiling millions to vast collective farms in a bid to take society back to "Year Zero" and forge a Marxist utopia.

Pol Pot died in 1998.

But the Khmer Rouge court, established in 2006 after nearly a decade of negotiations between the government and UN, has faced controversy over allegations of corruption and political interference.

Amid claims that Cambodian staff paid kickbacks for their jobs, donors have shied from funding parts of the court.

It was only able to pay salaries for Cambodian staff this month after Japan provided an emergency 200,000-dollar donation.

Japan remains the tribunal's biggest donor, pledging 21 million dollars early this year after the tribunal's operating costs ballooned from the original budget of 56.3 million dollars over three years.

The tribunal has been further dogged by allegations of interference by Prime Minister Hun Sen's administration after the Cambodian co-prosecutor opposed pursuing more suspects on the grounds that it could destabilise the country.

The other Khmer Rouge members awaiting trial are "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, former head of state Khieu Samphan, ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife Ieng Thirith, who was the minister of social affairs.

Many here hope the tribunal will help Cambodians understand how the Khmer Rouge came to kill its own people.

"We -- the victims -- need to understand (Duch's) brutality and how he treated and executed the prisoners like animals," said Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, which collects evidence of Khmer Rouge atrocities.

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