Secretary of State for Interior Kieng Vang left Cambodia for the US on Tuesday, two weeks after unidentified gunmen assassinated his cousin on a Phnom Penh street, officials and acquaintances confirmed.
The senior Funcinpec official requested a leave of absence about three weeks ago, citing his desire to visit family and receive a medical check-up, according to co-Minister of Interior You Hockry.
You Hockry said the leave of absence was for one month and that he fully expects Kieng Vang to return to his job.
Friends of Kieng Vang on Wednesday reported that he has received threats against his life since his cousin, General Kim Sang, chief of Cambodia’s naval police, was shot at 7:30 am March 4 while driving his car on a side street near Pochentong Boulevard.
A rights worker said the fact that Kim Sang was ambushed on a busy street by men wearing police uniforms shows the gunmen had protection from higher authorities.
At the time, Kieng Vang said he expected he would be killed in the same fashion.
“I am waiting for the day that they come and shoot me, then I will be murdered like my cousin,” he said.
Rights workers have said they believe Kieng Vang’s name to be on top of a list of political targets to be eliminated by the CPP.
You Hockry said Kieng Vang’s wife and daughter previously left for the US, where two other children of his are in school.
Smar Dei Khmer (Khmer Spirit), an opposition newspaper, reported Wednesday that Kieng Vang had been summoned for meetings by both Second Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Police Director Hok Lundy before leaving.
Om Yentieng, an adviser to Hun Sen, said that there had been no request by Hun Sen to see Kieng Vang and accused the newspaper of printing groundless rumors.
The Khmer-language press has reported that Kim Sang was killed on his way to meet with Hok Lundy. (Reporting by Marc Levy, Jeff Smith and Touch Rotha)
© 1998 – 2015, All rights reserved.