Funcinpec Secretary-General and four-star General Nhiek Bun Chhay alleged Monday that the NRP was spreading a spurious rumor that he is a suspect in the case of a Kompong Speu province drug lab raided by police in April.
“The rumor was spread by the Norodom Ranariddh Party officials because they want to intimidate [NRP] members into not defecting to Funcinpec,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said by telephone from Kompong Thom province.
He said that the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and the Interior Ministry had told him that he is not a suspect in the case. “I was not involved with the drugs,” he said.
Allegations of involvement in the drug lab were raised after officials claimed that Nhiek Bun Chhay’s former adviser, Chea Chung, owned the land containing the lab. Nhiek Bun Chhay immediately distanced himself from Chea Chung, stating that he had not been an adviser for over a year.
NRP spokesman Muth Channtha denied that his party had started the rumor, claiming that it was initiated by an article in the opposition-affiliated Sralanh Khmer newspaper.
“[Nhiek Bun Chhay’s] accusation against the Norodom Ranariddh Party is aimed at gaining political benefit,” he said.
Sralanh Khmer ran an article Sunday stating that border checkpoint officials had been instructed to be on alert for a “four-star general” wanted in connection to the clandestine lab.
No mention of Nhiek Bun Chhay was made in the article, but a picture of him was posted above the article, which also mentioned the Aug 15 arrest of Chea Chung—who was charged by the Phnom Penh court last week.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak declined to comment on the rumor or the drug lab case, saying only that “the investigation is ongoing.”
Municipal Court Chief Prosecutor Ouk Savuth referred questions to Investigating Judge Kim Ravy, who could not be reached for comment.