Provincial Police Blame Robbers
A Sam Rainsy Party candidate for commune council in Kompong Cham province was killed Friday in what police are calling an armed robbery.
Opposition party members say it was a political killing, the fourth such homicide—and the third of a Sam Rainsy Party candidate—in the past four months.
Police say it was not a political crime.
“It is purely robbery,” said Seng Sokim, deputy police chief of Kompong Cham province. “This was not aimed at a political candidate.”
Police identified the dead man as Chhim Leang Sri, 45, an opposition party candidate in O Pek village, Cheyo commune, Chamcar Leu district. He was the father of eight children.
Human rights activists say no matter what the motive, the fact that another commune council candidate has been killed frightens political candidates and sows fear among the electorate.
“We were very sorry to hear that this has happened again. With a killing like this, people will be scared to death, even if it is not linked to politics,” Licadho founder Kek Galabru said.
Three men dressed in army uniforms, their faces wrapped in kramas, broke into the home of Chhim Leang Sri’s brother, 42-year-old Chhim Chhun, around 6:30 pm, police said.
Carrying assault rifles, they pointed the guns at Chhim Chhun and his wife and demanded money. One of the robbers stayed outside.
Although the couple turned over $100 and jewelry, the thieves demanded more and beat Chhim Chhun with their rifle butts. Chhim Leang Sri, who lived about 12 meters from his brother, heard the noise, grabbed a knife and came running, police said.
The third robber shot him in the chest and hip, police said.
Opposition party members claim Chhim Leang Sri’s 14-year-old son, who was running behind his father, saw the robber shine a flashlight in his father’s face before shooting him again.