Gov’t Defends Probe of Chea Vichea Slaying

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith took issue Sunday with a new report by the human rights group Amnesty International that decried the stalled investigations into the assassination of union leader Chea Vichea.

On Friday, Amnesty International released a report saying the killing of the union leader exemplifies a Cambodian judiciary mired in corruption and influence.

“The killing…is the most recent in a long line of politically motivated killings, followed by inconclusive investigations and prosecutions plagued by irregularities,” the report states.

“The lack of political will to en­sure that the law takes its course without fear or favor and that no one is above or beneath the law remains the most serious hindrance to progress on human rights in Cambodia,” the report added.

Chea Vichea, president of the Free Trade Union of Workers was gunned down Jan 22. On Jan 27 and 28, Born Samnang, 23, and Sok Sam Oeun, 36, were arrested for the crime. At a news conference days later the men claimed they had been tortured by police.

The case against the suspects was dismissed March 19 by investigating Judge Heng Thirith for lack of evidence. But that ruling was reversed and Heng Thir­ith was reassigned. Both suspects remain in custody.

Khieu Kanharith said that only the opposition party refuses to accept that those arrested for Chea Vichea’s killing are legitimate suspects.

“We have arrested some of the suspects, and right now we are continuing to arrest suspects,” he said.

Khieu Kanharith also called on Amnesty International to produce hard evidence that any suspects were tortured into confessing to the killings of Chea Vichea.

“I do not think that the government has the will to arrest the real killers,” Chea Mony, brother of Chea Vichea and president of the Free Trade Union of Work­ers, said Sunday.

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