Cambodia may formally attempt to extradite an opposition party member hiding from arrest in Thailand, a government spokesman confirmed Thursday, though evidence against the suspect has yet to be made public.
Spokesman Khieu Kanharith said that while no written contact has been made between the Cambodian and Thai governments, officials are discussing how to officially seek Thai cooperation in returning Sok Yoeun to Cambodia, where military intelligence officials have named him as a suspect in last year’s Siem Reap rocket attack. Two members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet also said on Thursday extradition discussions have been held.
These discussions came a day after Hun Sen called Sok Yoeun an “international terrorist” and demanded his return.
A Thai diplomatic source Thursday also said that no requests have been made by the Cambodians to begin the extradition process. While the Thai parliament has yet to ratify the existing extradition treaty between the two countries, the diplomat said Sok Yoeun could still be sent to Cambodia if the two governments agree. But Cambodian officials would have to first present evidence to justify Sok Yoeun’s seizure—something they have been reluctant to do.
Cambodian intelligence chief Mol Roeup Thursday refused to comment on the case against Sok Yoeun, saying only it is in the hands of the competent authorities.
Rights workers familiar with Sok Yoeun’s case, as well as those of two other Sam Rainsy Party members currently jailed for their purported roles in the rocket attack, say the body of evidence against the men is small.
The bulk of that evidence includes a letter allegedly written on a Sam Rainsy Party letterhead alluding to the attack, which Hun Sen supporters called an attempt on the prime minister’s life. Other evidence is made up of witness statements, they said.
After the first rocket attack arrests were made several months ago, Sok Yoeun, a party activist from Battambang province, fled to Thailand, where in November he was granted refugee status by the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees.