UN human rights envoy Peter Leuprecht left a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen Monday night saying it was unclear if two killings last Wednesday, one of a Sam Rainsy Party activist and the other of a Funcinpec commune election candidate, were politically motivated.
Though officials from both parties have claimed the killings were meant to discourage other commune election candidates, Leuprecht told reporters it is “difficult to say these are politically motivated killings.”
Funcinpec candidate Thun Phally and Sam Rainsy Party member Phuong Sophat were both fatally shot at their Kompong Cham province homes. Police say the killings were the result of two separate personal arguments.
Om Yentieng, a senior adviser to Hun Sen, said the prime minister acknowledged there is concern about the killings, but that perhaps UN or local human rights investigators were overlooking evidence that would point to a personal, rather than political, motive.
Leuprecht is in Cambodia until Nov 28 on his fourth visit to the country. He has said February’s commune elections, as well as judicial reform and the right to education, are priorities during his talks with senior Cambodian leaders.
Leuprecht and Hun Sen have had a stormy relationship. During Leuprecht’s February visit, the Prime Minister refused to meet with the envoy, instead criticizing the UN for meddling with Cambodia’s sovereignty and accusing it of using its power to protect terrorists following the November 2000 attack by the anti-government Cambodian Freedom fighters.
Leuprecht plans later this week to visit Kampot to look into election fairness. UN officials indicated Kampot was chosen at random.
Leuprecht will also meet with Sam Rainsy Party and Funcinpec officials to discuss accusations the ruling CPP has been using intimidation to hamper the fairness of the commune elections.