Gunmen Shoot Employee of Controversial US Company

A Cambodian employee of a US company was fatally shot Sunday night in Kompong Cham province, allegedly by gunmen connected with a Funcinpec commune councilor who was accused earlier this year of destroying the company’s property, human rights officials claim.

The victim, 48-year-old El Les, was shot nine times while he was sleeping in a hammock in front of his house in Roka Pou Pram commune, Tbong Khmum district, said Bun Born, chief of the penal police in Kompong Cham province. El Les was an employee of the US company SRP Inter­national Group.

The police have no suspects in the shooting and are conducting an investigation, he said. But human rights officials in the pro­vince said the killers are suspected of being tied to Funcin­pec com­mune councilor Keo Van Tout.

In May, Kompong Cham au­thorities charged Keo Van Tout with destroying property managed by SRP International Group. Keo Van Tout, who had been active in land rights disputes in Tbong Khmum district, was de­tained in Kompong Cham prison for more than a month. He was released on June 19 with the promise that he cease any activity related to land disputes.

“We received reports that the killers are with Keo Van Tout,” said a human rights official, who declined to be identified, on Tues­day. “Keo Van Tout has been more active in campaigning for [Funcinpec], so maybe that was why he is being accused of [involvement] in the killing.”

Keo Van Tout could not be reached Tuesday.

The company officials also accused him of ordering gunmen to shoot at SRP International Group employees in Roka Pou Pram. In one incident, gunmen shot and wounded two SRP Inter­national Group employees who were driving in the commune.


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