Adding to the intrigue surrounding missing Khmer Krom monk Tim Sakhorn, local rights group Adhoc said Monday that it is scouring Takeo province after receiving a tip that he has been returned secretly from Vietnam.
Adhoc searched the provincial referral hospital and the provincial police and military police stations, and even a military base at the compound of the late Khmer Rouge commander Ta Mok for Tim Sakhorn, but all in vain, Adhoc investigator Ouch Leng said.
“We could not find him,” Ouch Leng said, adding that Adhoc will continue searching and believes the 40-year-old monk is in the province.
Adhoc’s Takeo search began Friday after three informants reported seeing Tim Sakhorn being treated at the provincial referral hospital on Thursday while police were stationed outside, Ouch Leng said.
The witnesses claim they saw an injured Tim Sakhorn handcuffed to a hospital bed, he added.
Tim Sakhorn was defrocked on June 30 on the orders of Great Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong, who accused him of undermining Cambodia’s ties with Hanoi. Rights workers claim Tim Sakhorn was subsequently abducted by unidentified men in bodyguard uniforms and driven away against his will.
Government officials, however, say that Tim Sakhorn consented to being taken to Vietnam, while Adhoc has previously reported receiving unconfirmed accounts that Tim Sakhorn was being detained at a military base in Vietnam.
Khieu Samros, deputy director of the provincial referral hospital, said Tim Sakhorn had not been treated there. Deputy Provincial Police Chief Suon Phon said reports that the monk was in the province were “not true.” Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said he had no information indicating that Tim Sakhorn is in Takeo.
Ang Chanrith, executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Organization, said he received informaton that Tim Sakhorn had returned to Cambodia. “Tim Sakhorn is in Takeo,” he said.