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Remains of Journalists May Have Surfaced in Cambodia

  • Robert Carmichael
  • VOA

Exactly 40 years ago, the war photographer Sean Flynn rode out of Phnom Penh on a motorbike, accompanied by photojournalist Dana Stone. They disappeared and have not been heard from since. But human remains uncovered in a remote part of Cambodia last month might hold a clue about what happened.

Sean Flynn and Dana Stone were in Cambodia, covering the country's drift into civil war. The two were well known journalists in the region. Flynn was the son of legendary Hollywood actor Errol Flynn.

They disappeared on April Sixth, 1970, and are believed to have been captured by Vietnamese troops and handed over to the Khmer Rouge, who eventually killed them.

Renowned British war photographer Tim Page, a close friend, has spent a large part of the past two decades searching for Flynn's remains.

His research led him to a site in eastern Cambodia where he believes Flynn, Stone and perhaps 10 other journalists may have been held for more than a year before being executed.

Last month two Australians got to the site and partially dug it up. They say they found Flynn's remains, and have handed them over to U.S. military scientists to be identified.

However, Page says American scientists should go to the site and professionally excavate it.

"I'm hoping this is going to somehow oblige them to go into these zones and do the good thing."

Local news reports indicate a U.S. team will head to the site later this month.

That would coincide with the arrival in Phnom Penh of many of the journalists who covered the region in the late 1960s and 1970s, visiting to mark 35th anniversary of the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge government.

"It would be nice to think that we might get some closure this year on some of our compadres. If it proves to be Sean or Dana, we've kicked a goal. I'm not keeping my hopes up."

During their time here the journalists will unveil a memorial to the 37 Cambodian and foreign journalists who died or disappeared during the war.

Among the names on the memorial will be Sean Flynn and Dana Stone.

Page says that ,in war, friends become closer even than family. It is that camaraderie that has provided him with the motivation to seek out the final resting place of his old friend.