A senior military intelligence official said Thursday the Cambodian government is targeting members of the Free Vietnam movement for the 1998 Siem Reap rocket attack, and have pursued Sam Rainsy Party activists for their allegedly close ties with this anti-communist group.
Hour Sareth, chief of the military’s Intervention Department, said that Sok Yoeun, the opposition party member facing extradition from Thailand where he is being detained, will be given full immunity if he reveals the names of Free Vietnam leaders operating here.
The Free Vietnam movement —an anti-Hanoi, anti-communist organization—surfaced here publicly five years ago, when the government attempted to deport six US citizens and 32 Vietnamese thought to be members. Cambodian authorities have periodically arrested alleged members, and at least one is thought to have quietly been sent back to Vietnam.
But Cambodian authorities have not yet publicly tried to link Free Vietnam with the rocket attack, which loyalists of Prime Minister Hun Sen claim was an attempt on the premier’s life.
Instead, they swept the Battambang town area late last year, arresting two Sam Rainsy Party members—Mong Davuth and Kong Bun Heang—and forcing Sok Yoeun to flee to Thailand, where he was arrested in December for illegally entering the country.
Hour Sareth said Thursday that opposition party members were sought out because of “Free Vietnam’s cooperation with the Sam Rainsy Party”—a charge that has been repeatedly denied by officials of the opposition party.
But Hour Sareth stated Sam Rainsy may still be linked to both Free Vietnam and the rocket attack. Hour Sareth said he first had to find documents and then witnesses to implicate the opposition party leader—both of which he said are likely to come from disgruntled former party members.
Authorities will also order Mong Davuth and Kong Bun Heang, who were released from jail in June for lack of evidence, back to court for questioning if Sok Yoeun is successfully extradited, he said.
When asked if enough evidence has been given to Thai courts to justify Sok Yoeun’s return, Hour Sareth replied, “It is enough.” Yet he refused to completely reveal the nature of the evidence to reporters.
A second set of evidence—recordings allegedly of Sok Yoeun asking for a seat in the National Assembly if he carried out the rocket attack—was delivered to Thailand earlier this week.