More than a dozen police are poised to apprehend suspects in last week’s Pursat province shooting of a Funcinpec candidate for commune election, waiting only for provincial court officials to release the arrest warrants, a provincial security official said.
Pursat central security Deputy Chief Mao Mut said he is pushing the court to release the warrants as soon as possible. Once the warrants are delivered to the provincial police, the suspects, who are in Koh Chum commune, will be arrested.
The local authorities had expected to receive the warrants on Tuesday.
“We will not let the case go past Friday and will try to get the warrant by then,” Mao Mut said
He has not released the names of the suspects, fearing the information would tip them off to the impending arrest.
The two suspects whom authorities allege shot Seoung Sem are soldiers from Division 8 of the Pursat military, said provincial Police Commissioner Hang Sithorn. He said the man suspected of hiring the two shooters lives in the same village where Seoung Sem lives.
Hang Sithorn would not say whether the Seoung Sem shooting was politically motivated.
“Through our interviews with people, the first thing we heard was that the shooting was caused by a grudge,” he said. “But we won’t know the truth until the offenders are arrested.”
Seoung Sem, 65, was shot on July 1 and is recovering from his wound in a provincial hospital.
Reports of the pending arrests in Pursat come shortly after police apprehended two suspects in the Kompong Speu shooting death of Uch Horn, a commune election candidate for the Sam Rainsy Party. Those suspects were arrested Saturday.
The swift arrests of the suspects in the Uch Horn shooting and the pending arrests in the attack on Seoung Sem has pleased officials from both the US embassy and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Although officials from the US Embassy and the UNHCHR denied pressing Prime Minister Hun Sen to make rapid arrests in these two cases, they said that their respective organizations have pressured the government and Hun Sen to quell any violence related to the commune elections.
An independent investigation from the Human Rights Action Committee, a committee comprised of 18 NGOs—is still under way in the shooting of Seoung Sem, said Kek Galabru, founder of the human rights group Licadho and a committee member.
She said the investigation of the Uch Horn killing is completed, and the committee will make a statement about its findings on Friday.