Legal Stakes Rise Over 1997 Grenade Attack

Prime Minister Hun Sen will launch a new lawsuit against Sam Rainsy if the courts dismiss the opposition leader’s complaint that Hun Sen masterminded the 1997 grenade attack on an opposition rally in Phnom Penh, an adviser to the premier said Sunday.

“If the court finds out that [Sam Rainsy’s] lawsuit is twisted and the court doesn’t consider it, we will file a counter lawsuit,” Om Yentieng said by telephone.

Sam Rainsy filed a criminal complaint against Hun Sen in Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week, claiming the premier was responsible for the 1997 attack that killed at least 13 people at a demonstration led by the opposition leader.

His complaint countered two defamation lawsuits lodged by Hun Sen and the government after Sam Rainsy claimed the CPP was responsible for the Jan 22 killing of union leader Chea Vichea.

Appearing on state-run TVK on Friday, Om Yentieng accused Sam Rainsy of conjuring a plot to blame the 1997 grenade attack on the prime minister.

TVK and several other stations also repeatedly broadcast a 1998 interview with Chhay Vy and Chum Bunthoeun, who claimed they were hired by Sam Rainsy to tell US Federal Bureau of Invest­igation officials that they had received money from Hun Sen to carry out the grenade attack. “Sam Rainsy invented the story and used the FBI,” Om Yentieng said.

Sam Rainsy on Sunday said the threat of a new lawsuit against him heightens the need for the FBI to release information, which he claims incriminates Hun Sen but was suppressed for fear of creating political instability in the country.

“I think the evidence that the FBI has has become crucial,” Sam Rainsy said, adding that US officials now face a “moral problem” in deciding to re­lease the reportedly suppressed information.

He also said he met with French investigating judge Bau­doin Thouvenot several months ago to discuss a criminal complaint that Sam Rainsy, who is a French citizen, filed there against Hun Sen in November 2000 over the 1997 attack. Thouvenot has made “pro­gress” in the case and will soon visit Cambodia for further investigation, Sam Rainsy said.


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