2 Years on, No Clues, Suspects in Journalist’s Killing

Nearly two years after journalist Khim Sambor and his son Khat Sarintheata were fatally shot in Phnom Penh, police still have no clues or suspects in the killings, municipal police chief Touch Naruth said yesterday.

“There is seemingly nothing new,” Mr Naruth said of the police investigation into the killings.

Khat Sarintheata, 22, and Khim Sambor, 47, a reporter for the pro-SRP newspaper Moneaksekar Khmer, were fatally shot on July 11, 2008, outside Olympic Stadium in Prampi Makara district about two weeks before Cambodia’s national elections.

Mr Naruth said that the US Fed­eral Bureau of Investigation, which assisted Cambodian police during the initial stages of the investigation, had promised to turn over its findings to him, but had so far not contacted him.

“FBI does not have anything either since they returned home,” said Mr Naruth.

US Embassy spokesman John Johnson declined to comment on the FBI investigation into the case and referred questions to Cambo­dian police.

Mr Naruth said that the investigation had been compromised when the surviving family of Khim Sambor left in August 2008 to seek political asylum in Sweden.

“Our investigating had became blurry since the victim’s family departed to a foreign country,” Mr Naruth said.

Eang Heang, 45, Khim Sam­bor’s widow, who has received asylum in Sweden along with her two children, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Khim Chank­re­us­na, 20, the younger brother of Khat Sarintheata, declined by telephone from Sweden to discuss the death of his father and brother.

“I am sorry. I do not want to talk about this,” Mr Chankreusna said. “It is useless and just makes me suffer more.”

Mr Chankreusna said his mother lives with him and his sister around 1,000 km from Stockholm.

Khim Khat Roland, 40, the younger brother of Khim Sam­bor, said Friday that he and other family members believe police have taken too long to solve the case. He also criticized the police for calling on the FBI to help in the investigation.

“It is ridiculous that the owner does not know internal problems in the house, but invited an outsider to investigate instead,” Mr Khat Roland said. “How could the outsider find it out?”

Dam Sethik, editor-in-chief of Moneakseka Khmer, said Friday that an FBI special agent met with him and a group of senior Cam­bo­dian police to interview him shortly after Khim Sambor and his son were murdered, but that he had re­fused to cooperate due to his mistrust of local officers, who were al­so present.

He added that he believed that Khim Sambor’s death was directly related to a story he reported be­fore the killings.

“The death of Mr Sambor is com­pletely related to an article in Moneakseka Khmer,” Mr Sethik said, recalling that his newspaper ran Khim Sambor’s sensitive article just 13 days before his killing.

He said the article cited an un­named powerful government official who lost large sums of money at a casino in Svay Rieng pro­vince’s Bavet city and then arrested a senior casino worker who repeatedly refused to lend him money.

 

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