Activist, Police Differ Over Arrest Details

Police and an opposition party leader offered sharply different accounts of events Tuesday that ended with the activist “detained” near the Angkorian temples Chinese President Jiang Zemin was to visit.

Police say Touch Sarou, the Sam Rainsy Party head in Siem Reap, was detained from 9 am to nearly 1 pm because they suspected he was planning to disrupt the Chinese visit.

Touch Sarou, however, said he just wanted to look at a Holly­wood movie set.

Nguon Bophal, Siem Reap police chief, said Touch Sarou and 10 others were standing along the motorcade route at a spot where nobody was supposed to be standing when they were detained.

The other 10 men are not affiliated with the party, police said.

“Police detained them temporarily [at nearby Wat Thmei] to protect the delegation’s security,” he said. “They were released after the delegation returned [to China].”

Touch Sarou, however, said that is nonsense. “This detention is wrong,” he said. “I did not plan any demonstration at all.”

He says he was visiting a friend’s house near the Kantha Bop­­ha Children’s Hospital to get a look at sets being built for the film  “Tomb Raider,” set to film in Ang­kor later this month.

“I’ve never seen [preparations for] a big Hollywood film,” he said. “I’ve only seen them on TV,” and wanted a first-hand look at how a blockbuster is put together.

As he got ready to leave, he and ten members of the film construction crew were surrounded by “about 60 policemen,” he said.                        Touch Sarou said when he asked to see the warrant, police told him they didn’t have one and were acting on orders from their superiors. He said police later prevented his wife from delivering a mobile phone to him.

The men were released at 12:45 pm, 45 minutes after Jiang Zemin’s plane was to leave.

Touch Sarou said he plans to lodge a court complaint alleging human rights abuses and wrongful detention.



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