Three years after the bloody grenade attack, investigators say they still believe someone will be arrested.
“We have evidence in hand, but we need more information and witnesses,’’ said Deputy Director General of National Police Teng Savong, who heads the committee investigating the crime.
He declined last week to say what that evidence is, saying police must keep that information confidential. “We need more time to continue to work on it,’’ he said.
“This case is very hard. Even the FBI met difficulties’’ in its investigation, Teng Savong said, referring to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
It’s difficult to know exactly what the FBI discovered because its final report has never been made public, although drafts of it have been leaked.
The US law enforcement agency became involved because a US citizen was injured in the attack and the Cambodian government asked the FBI for help. According to documents obtained by The Cambodia Daily in Washington, the FBI concluded that some members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit had been uncooperative, that FBI agents had been prevented from interviewing a key witness, and that a prime suspect had mysteriously escaped from custody before agents could interview him.
The FBI also cited media reports that the bodyguard detachment had made no attempt to stop the perpetrators, and that the unit had not been seen at any rallies prior to March 30.
Sar Kheng, co-minister for the interior and deputy prime minister, said last week by telephone that the disappearance of witnesses after the factional fighting of July 5-6 made the investigators’ task that much harder.
“However, I hope all perpetrators will be arrested soon,’’ Sar Kheng said.
Khieu Kanharith, secretary of state for the Ministry of Information, agreed. “I am sure the truth will be known and found out,” he said. “It could not be hidden for four years.”
Mao Chandara, chief of staff for the National Police, said “a handful of bad people’’ were responsible for throwing the grenades.
While the police “are responsible to [provide] security for the people,’’ he said Tuesday, they cannot guarantee such things will never happen. Such events are not unknown in large developed countries, he noted. “We police have to prevent bad men from doing turmoil in society.’’
Heng Hak, who worked in the anti-terrorism unit before being promoted to deputy chief of the Interior cabinet, said Wednesday local authorities have been trained to prevent future attacks.
Van Sopheak, security officer for the Sam Rainsy Party, said he believes the government knows who committed the crime, “but it dares not to call them, as they are [protected by] high officials.’’
Van Sopheak, whose right arm and leg were injured in the blasts, said he is saddened by the lack of progress but remains resolute.
“This attack could not frighten me,’’ he said. Even if no one is ever arrested, he said, he will continue to fight for democracy.