INVESTIGATION UNDER WAY IN CAMBODIAN DOUBLE MURDER


2004-01-16
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PHNOM PENH, Jan. 16, 2004�A Cambodian provincial police chief Friday promised a full investigation into the double murder of two opposition Sam Rainsy Party activists, RFA's Khmer service reports.

�We are currently investigating these murders,� Banteay Meanchhey provincial police chief Sok Sareth said in an interview. �We found that 240,000 riel (U.S. $60) was stolen, which means this was a case of armed robbery.� O Chrov district governor Sar Chamrong told RFA on Thursday the murders were not politically motivated.

On Jan. 15, 46-year-old Keo Chan and 39-year-old Chhin La were gunned down by four unidentified gunmen in what local officials claim was an armed robbery. The assailants appeared to have entered Keo Chan�s home at approximately 9 p.m., while he and Chhin La were listening to a Voice of America radio program. Initial reports indicated that the incident took place in Chhin La�s home.

�The killers climbed into the house and opened fire. Chhin La and Keo Chan were killed immediately. This was a politically motivated murder and the act is a threat to our party,� Sam Rainsy Party official Eng Chhay Eang told RFA.

�After the killing, [the gunmen] threw hand grenades and fired several shots to escape. Three other people were injured,� Sar Chamrong said. �Our military police are investigating this incident right now.�

Chhin La and Keo Chan both come from the Seila Khmer village, O Bei Choan commune in the O Chrov district of Banteay Meancchey Province.

On Jan. 10, another Sam Rainsy Party supporter, 42-year-old Lay Kong, was gunned down at his home in the central Cambodian province of Kampong Cham at approximately 7:30 p.m. local time. He succumbed to his wounds after being shot seven times with an AK rifle similar to those used in Thursday�s attack. Authorities called Lay Kong�s murder a "conflict" unrelated to politics.

"The government should pay more attention to [these killings]," Cambodian Center for Human Rights Chief Kem Sokha told RFA. "I think this incident is political discrimination." He pointed out that political murders typically occur in remote rural areas.

In October 2003, several supporters of another Cambodian political party, royalist FUNCINPEC Party, were gunned down�including a famous pop star and a deputy editor for a local FUNCINPEC-aligned radio station.

Hun Sen�s Cambodian People's Party gained 73 seats in the National Assembly during elections in August. But without a two-thirds majority, Cambodian law prevents him from forming his own government.

The CPP�s two main rivals are the royalist FUNCINPEC Party and the Sam Rainsy Party, which won 26 and 24 seats, respectively. Both parties have formed an alliance against Hun Sen�s leadership in the future government, called the Alliance of Democrats.

Plans for the formation of a new Cambodian government are still tentative, with member parties of the Alliance of Democrats refusing to form a coalition government with the CPP. #####

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