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Media Statement in response to the Victorian Coroner's findings on the David Wilson Case

19 September 2012

“David Wilson’s death was a devastating experience not only for his family and friends, but for all of us closely involved in trying to resolve the crisis of his capture by the Khmer Rouge.

The whole experience was a deeply traumatic one for the eight or so deeply committed  foreign affairs officials who worked on the case full-time in Cambodia and Canberra over the whole period he was held captive, from July to November 1994, and it is for their sakes, above all, that I welcome the Coroner’s findings.  

For me as the responsible minister, this was by far my most harrowing experience in thirteen years of government.  I have always strongly believed – even armed with all the wisdom of hindsight, and after reviewing all the incredibly complex and sensitive issues and negotiations involved  –   that  there was nothing more any Australian official could reasonably have done to change the course of events. That belief  has  now apparently been vindicated by the Victorian Coroner. But that has done nothing to relieve my personal distress, then or since, at David’s murder. Nor, I know, can it ever relieve his family’s.

I can understand and sympathise with Mr Gaisford’s continued emotion on this subject, but as to the credibility and substance of his allegations the Coroner has said all that needs to be said.”

Gareth Evans

Foreign Minister 1988-96