A senior Funcinpec official has denounced the arrests of four party commune administrators last week, saying the accusations that those taken into custody are members of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters are a political strike against the party.
Party officials also claim authorities failed to follow proper legal procedure when the suspects were arrested and questioned.
“We are against any activity that could cause instability in the country, but we want to ensure that no innocent people are arrested,” Funcinpec general secretary Prince Norodom Sirivudh said.
According to Prince Sirivudh, the four Funcinpec suspects have not received legal representation, but added that the suspects have contacted a lawyer. He said he did not know whether any lawyer has had access to the suspects.
Prince Sirivudh was also upset that no lawyer was present when the suspects were first questioned.
Funcinpec National Assembly lawmaker Nan Sy said the arrests might be politically motivated. “This is one of the games of the politicians,” Nan Sy said. “We already know who was arrested—the Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party members. Why not CPP?”
Three of the four Funcinpec suspects were arrested in Battambang while the fourth was arrested in Kampot on Sept 14, according to the human rights group Licadho.
Those arrested include Hang Nhorn, chief of the Funcinpec office in Kam Rieng commune, Kam Rieng district; Sau Sang, second deputy of the Funcinpec office in Kam Rieng commune; Nerm Sopheap, Funcinpec commune candidate for Pich Chanda commune, Phnom Preik district; and Me Sam Oeun, Funcinpec commune candidate for Mak Prang commune, Kampot province, according to Licadho.
All four suspects are charged with terrorism and membership in an illegal armed group. Since early this month, the government has arrested a total of 24 suspected CFF members.
Battambang Deputy Governor Pa Socheatevong said there was nothing improper about the arrest, investigation or charges brought against the suspects in his province.
The authorities had evidence, documents and “real” confessions from CFF suspects, and made their arrests according to that information, he said.
“We only crack down on the terrorists,” he said.
Local authorities in Phnom Preik found bombs, 31 grenades and five guns on the Funcinpec suspects in Phnom Preik and Kam Rieng, Pa Socheatevong said.
He said there was no political motivation behind the arrests, saying that three CPP soldiers were arrested as suspected CFF members as well as the Funcinpec commune officials. That information could not be confirmed.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is currently looking into the legality of the arrests of suspected CFF members in Battambang and Phnom Penh, an official from the UNHCHR said.
The UNHCHR is trying to gain access to the suspects in Battambang and trying to ensure that all the suspects have legal representation, the official said.