Group Calls for Investigation of Publisher’s Murder

Reporters Without Borders is­sued a statement Friday calling on the government to conduct an “ex­haustive investigation” into the kill­ing of a little-known newspaper pub­lisher whose body was found Wed­nesday stuffed inside a suitcase and dumped in Kompong Speu province.

A senior Sangkum Jatiniyum Front Party official also said Sunday that Pov Sam Ath, publisher of Voice of Khmer Krom newspaper, was a member of the party and that his apparent death by strangulation could be politically motivated.

“Reporters Without Borders call[s] on the government, and particularly the Minister of the Interior Sar Kheng, to commit the necessary resources to an exhaustive investigation into the killing,” the France-based press freedom group wrote.

Suth Dina, secretary-general of Prince Sisowath Thomico’s SJFP, described Pov Sam Ath as a pro-royalist political activist.

But a family member who spoke on condition of anonymity said that friends and family do not believe the death was related to politics.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieu­­tenant General Khieu Sopheak said police are investigating, but he declined to give details, referring additional questions to authorities in Kompong Speu and the Phnom Penh Municipal Police. Kompong Speu Police Chief Keo Pisey said that police have not yet determined a motive for the killing.

Phnom Penh police chief Touch Naruth said that his police are as­sisting in the investigation. “We have already given documents to Kompong Speu police. Whatever they need, we give them,” he said.

Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kan­harith said that while alive, Pov Sam Ath had slipped under the radar. “Frank­ly speaking, until his death we did not know about him at all,” Khieu Kanharith wrote in an e-mail.

Thach Setha, the president of the Khmer Krom Association in Cam­bo­dia, said he is becoming more concerned about attacks against Khmer Krom people living in Cam­bo­dia.

Yoeun Sin, director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Bud­dhist Monk Association, said that he had little faith that authorities would conduct a serious investigation, as no further investigation has been made into the mysterious death of a Khmer Krom monk in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district in February.

Police said at the time that Eang Sok Thoeun, who died hours after attending a protest outside the Viet­namese Embassy, committed suicide by cutting his own throat. Rights workers believe he may have been murdered.

 

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