Government Allegation Denials Weak, French Magazine Says

The French magazine that linked Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wife to the murder of Piseth Peaklica has dismissed government denials as ‘‘the lies of ancient Khmer Rouge dignitaries,’’ and says a recent statement from the office of Prime Minister Hun Sen contains ‘‘obviously poor arguments’’ and ‘‘the worst possible line of defense.”

In its latest edition, L’Express Magazine notes that diaries said to have been written by the slain movie star—denied as fakes by the government—were analyzed by handwriting experts, along with a love letter for Piseth Peak­lica allegedly penned by Hun Sen.

The magazine then prints an interview with Piseth Peaklica’s sister in which she repeats accusations that her sister had an affair with the rime minister, and was murdered by a hit team hired by his wife.

‘‘Phnom Penh authorities have chosen the worst possible line of defense: denying everything and accusing our magazine of being anti-Cambodian,’’ L’Express writes. ‘‘Between the lies of these ancient Khmer Rouge dignitaries and new revelations Peaklica’s sister recounted on Oct 14, L’Express lets its readers be the only judges.’’

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith and several other officials declined to comment on the case calling it a ‘‘personal matter.’’

Senior Hun Sen adviser Om Yentieng could not be reached for comment.

The new statement is the latest salvo over the controversial article, which hit the stands Oct 7, four months after Piseth Peaklica was gunned down by assassins in a brazen daylight attack near the O’Russei market.

The original L’Express article said Piseth Peaklica, 34, had a yearlong secret affair with Hun Sen, prompting Bun Rany, Hun Sen’s wife, to exact the fatal re­venge.

After the article’s publication, which cited a diary, a love letter, and interviews with Peaklica’s relatives, the office of the prime minister issued a scathing point-by-point rebuttal and promised legal action in both French and Cam­bo­dian courts.

In the new L’Express article, Peaklica’s sister Sao Peana says the star began keeping the journal because she knew the affair was risky and ‘‘she did not know how much time she had left.”

‘‘Nobody can contest this was written by her. She writes about her life, her childhood; she cites my name and the names of others in our family who lived with us during the Pol Pot period…. It’s impossible to invent these details.’’

Sao Peana says she would ‘‘swear in front of Buddha’’ that her statements are not politically motivated.

She also repeats assertions that she and her sister were warned of the impending hit by National Police Chief Hok Lundy—an as­sertion he has de­nied.

Government officials have claim­ed the story was engineered by opposition leader Sam Rainsy as part of elaborate scheme to de­fame the prime minister and his family.

The government officials argue that an in-law of Sam Rainsy works at the magazine, that Peak­lica’s sister is married to one of Sam Rainsy’s bodyguards, and that Hun Sen was recovering from appendicitis at the time the alleged affair is said to have begun.

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