Since his mysterious disappearance in late June from a Takeo province pagoda, Khmer Krom Monk Tim Sakhorn has made his first public appearance in the pages of Vietnam’s An Giang newspaper where he is pictured under arrest and under questioning by police.
Thach Ngoc Wath, secretary-general of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community, said the August 28 Vietnamese newspaper photograph of Tim Sakhorn, which was circulated in Phnom Penh this week, is authentic but the accompanying story, which claims the monk confessed to perpetrating anti-Hanoi activities in Vietnam, is propaganda.
“What was written in the Vietnamese newspaper is not true. I do not believe that Tim Sakhorn has confessed,” Thach Ngoc Wath said.
“Everything mentioned in the Vietnamese newspaper was created by Vietnamese authorities to support the charges against [Tim Sakhorn],” he said.
Tim Sakhorn was defrocked on the orders of Cambodia’s Supreme Buddhist Patriarch Tep Vong who accused him of damaging relations between Hanoi and Phnom Penh. He disappeared immediately after and it took several weeks before Vietnamese authorities admitted they had detained the ethnic Khmer monk and charged him with anti-government activities.
Trinh Ba Cam, Vietnam Embassy spokesman, said on Friday that the picture of Tim Sakhorn proves that Vietnamese authorities had not “punished, tortured or beaten him as some people have tried to twist the truth.”
“That is why the newspaper wrote the article with the photographs to show that the questioning by our police officers [of Tim Sakhorn] was made in public,” he said.
Nguon Nhel, CPP first vice president of the National Assembly, said he was happy to see that Tim Sakhorn was alive and well in Vietnam.
“His picture in the Vietnamese newspaper is proof that clarifies allegations made by some political party and some people that the monk might have been tortured or killed,” Nguon Nhel said.
“Vietnam has its own law against criminals so no country can intervene in another country’s law,” he added.
Thach Setha, executive director of the KKKC, said his organization will send a formal letter to King Norodom Sihamoni seeking his intervention in securing Tim Sakhorn’s return to Cambodia.
“We will try to meet face-to-face with our highly respected King very soon to beg him to intervene,” he said.
Trinh Ba Cam reiterated Friday that Tim Sakhorn is a Vietnamese national who has confessed to committing crimes in Vietnam, and there “was no reason” to send him to Cambodia.