Mysterious Tape Alleges Political Attack Scheme Against SRP

Three days before his Oct 6 abduction, opposition party parliamentarian Lon Phon received an ominous audio tape—a “confession” allegedly made by a Sam Rainsy Party member revealing a murder-for-hire scheme and a target list with the names of leading opposition officials.

A man identified by Sam Rainsy Party members as Abdul Karim—who worked as a deputy district party chief in Battam­bang—can be heard on the tape describing how he was offered thousands of dollars to kill party officials, including Lon Phon.

“I told [authorities] that I don’t dare to do so, and was told if I dared to do this I would get $300,000,” he is heard saying on the tape, obtained from the Sam Rainsy Party.

The tape—one of at least two different “confessions” delivered to rights workers in Phnom Penh—is being called by some rights workers and opposition members the first hard evidence to surface recently of an elaborate plot to destroy political opponents of the government.

However, military intelligence officials maintain the tape is a fabrication by the Sam Rainsy Party.

Abdul Karim said on the tape that he was employed by an army colonel named Hour Sareth.

According to rights workers and opposition members, Hour Sareth runs a department under military intelligence chief Mol Roeup that is responsible for recruiting opposition party members to spy for the government.

Mol Roeup said Hour Sareth worked for him, but said charges he was behind a plot to infiltrate and eliminate opposition figures were bogus. “No, it’s not true,” said Mol Roeup, who was outside the capital Monday. He said he would elaborate upon returning.

Contacted last week, Hour Sareth denied any involvement in illegal arrests or killings, though he acknowledged his role was to detain “terrorists.” He dismissed Abdul Karim’s statements that he ordered the deaths of opposition officials and attributed them to po­litical infighting in Sam Rainsy Party Battam­bang branches.

“Nowadays I’ve got a headache from the Sam Rainsy Party be­cause the party’s members do terrorist acts everywhere in Cam­bodia,” Hour Sareth said. “The Sam Rainsy Party is broken and that is why its members go around doing terrorist acts.”

Hour Sareth claims to have videotaped confessions from other party members who committed illegal acts—possibly on the part of the opposition party.

Sam Rainsy officials point to a document allegedly from Hour Sareth’s office in the Inter­vention and Research Depart­ment that identifies Abdul Karim as an “agent” of that office, ordered to carry out unnamed duties.

At least two other members are thought to also have been spies in Battambang and are now allegedly in Hour Sareth’s custody at a resi­dence in Phnom Penh, ac­cording to rights workers.

Additionally, the tape contains allegations that Hour Sareth has orchestrated a number of recent attacks on Sam Rainsy and Funcin­pec members, and may have invented the alleged roles of Sam Rainsy members in last year’s B-40 rocket attack in Siem Reap.

In September, Sam Rainsy Party members Mong Davuth and Kong Bun Heang were discreetly arrested in connection with the attack.

“The arrest of these two party members and other unjust acts were invented by Hour Sareth,” Abdul Karim said on the tape.

This last assertion strengthens the opposition’s argument that the attack, which killed one person and left three others wounded, was designed by supporters of Hun Sen to implicate the Sam Rainsy Party and justify a crackdown on its members.

Rights workers say they have found a third man arrested by Hour Sareth, who allegedly tried to force him to confess to participating in the B-40 rocket attack.

Government officials have suggested Lon Phon was abducted by a member of the Sam Rainsy Party. Interior Ministry spokes­man Khieu Sopheak, who would only say investigators are “making progress” on the case, said last week an alleged kidnapper told authorities by phone he “loved the Sam Rainsy Party.”

“Everything is orchestrated to put the blame on the Sam Rainsy Party,” Sam Rain­sy cabinet chief Phi Thach said.

Though Lon Phon has never publicly said he thought his kidnapping was orchestrated by the government, senior party officials continue to claim the abduction was the most recent in a series of planned attacks on the party.

Lon Phon, released unharmed, acknowledges re­ceiving the audio tape but has never connected it with the ongoing rocket attack investigation.

He did say, though, that he knew Abdul Karim, but not well.

The whereabouts of Abdul Karim is unknown, party officials and rights workers said.

and repeated party claims the kidnappers were not party members.


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