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Witness Recants Testimony on Identity of Actor's Killers

September 10, 1996

A key witness who identified the three suspected killers of Oscar-winning actor Haing Ngor recanted his testimony Monday, saying police told him which suspects to pick out and what story to tell.

Earlier in the preliminary hearing, Sarik Vireak had told the judge that he was frightened as he gave testimony against the three alleged gang members accused of killing the Cambodian actor.

Jason Chan, Indra Lim and Tak Sun Tan have pleaded not guilty to murdering Ngor, who won an Oscar as best supporting actor in the 1984 movie "The Killing Fields." Ngor was shot twice in the driveway of his Chinatown home in February during what police believe was a robbery attempt.

Vireak told prosecutors in the morning that he heard apparent gunshots and saw the three suspects running down an alley near where Ngor was shot.

But under cross-examination, Vireak said that story had been a lie. He said detectives had pointed out photographs of the suspects they wanted him to identify.

"When you pointed out those pictures and put your initials, you were doing that because the officers told you?" Judge Stephen Marcus asked.

Vireak replied, "Yes." He was ordered to return to court Tuesday or face arrest.

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