A dozen years have passed and the government has “still taken no steps” to solve the 1997 grenade attack that left 16 dead and more than 150 wounded, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
Rather than bring to justice those who ordered and conducted the attack on a peaceful March 30, 1997, rally against corruption, the government has instead doled out promotions to those implicated in the bombing, Human Rights Watch said.
Citing leaked details from a still- classified US Federal Bureau of Investigation report; Human Rights Watch said the government promoted members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s personal bodyguard unit who are implicated in the attack and other acts of violence.
“The perpetual failure to address this crime has made March 30 ‘Impunity Day’ in Cambodia,” Brad Adams, Rights Watch’s Asia director, said in the statement.
“This anniversary, on the day the Khmer Rouge trials are beginning, shows how far Cambodia has to go toward holding human rights abusers accountable,” he said.
The Human Rights Watch statement named both Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Defense, Huy Piseth and RCAF Deputy Commander Hing Bunheang. A 1999 report from the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations also named the men, adding, “members of Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Force participated in the planning and execution of the March 30, 1997 attack.”
Neither Huy Piseth, who was commander of the premier’s bodyguard unit at the time of the attack, nor Hing Bunheang, the former deputy commander of the unit, could be reached for comment.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the allegations about Hun Sen’s bodyguards by Human Rights Watch should be more evidential. He also denied the government was ignoring the case, saying he did not think 12 years was too long for an investigation to go without suspects, adding that some can take “70 to 80 years” to finish.
“It is simple to accuse but we need to have clear and right evidence,” he said by telephone.
(Additional reporting by Prak Chan Thul)