VOA, Phnom Penh
Photo: VOA - R. CarmichaelLast month, amateur excavators unearthed human remains they claimed were those of U.S. war photographer Sean Flynn, who disappeared in Cambodia 40 years ago. But the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh says the remains are not Flynn's.
The surviving journalists and photographers who covered the war in Cambodia between 1970-75 gathered in Phnom Penh last week. They are seen here at a memorial to mark the 37 local and foreign colleagues who died during that time.
In 1970 war photographer Sean Flynn, the son of legendary Hollywood actor Errol Flynn, was in Cambodia covering the country's drift into civil war.
On April 6th that year he rode out of Phnom Penh with U.S. journalist Dana Stone. The two were not seen again, and were presumed captured and killed by the Khmer Rouge.
But last month two amateur excavators said they had found Flynn's remains in southeastern Cambodia.
On Monday, the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh said that military scientists tested the remains and found they are not Caucasian, and therefore could not be Flynn or Stone.
"And limited analysis suggests that they may be indigenous. Further testing is underway," embassy spokesman John Johnson said.
The excavation of the remains caused controversy. It came just weeks before a group of 27 journalists and photographers who covered Cambodia in the 1970s arrived here for a reunion, the first since Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge in April 1975.
Some of the journalists, many of whom knew Flynn and Stone, were angry at the way the excavators recovered the bones, especially their use of heavy earthmoving equipment.
The Embassy's Johnson says the use of a backhoe - a mechanical digger - caused problems.
"The remains are badly fragmented due to the manner in which they were recovered," Johnson said.
During their visit here last week, the group of returning journalists unveiled a memorial to the 37 Cambodian and foreign colleagues who died or disappeared during the war.
Among the names read out at the ceremony were those of Sean Flynn and Dana Stone, whose fates still remain unknown.