The disclosure of a classified FBI report on the 1997 grenade attack at a Sam Rainsy Party rally will not shed light on the identity of the perpetrators, US Ambassador Kent Wiedemann maintained Friday.
Speaking at the fourth anniversary ceremony of the attack, held at a commemorative stupa located in the park opposite the National Assembly, Wiedemann said he believes that the much talked-about FBI report was unable to definitively conclude who the perpetrators of the attack were.
“I can assure you as an American official that my government does not cover up information for political reasons,” Wiedemann said.
“The FBI came here to do as thorough as possible, serious investigation, and as I say, had they found clear evidence of who was guilty I am sure action would have been taken,” he added.
No one has been arrested or prosecuted for the attack, which killed at least 17 people and injured more than 100 people attending the early morning anti-corruption rally. Opposition leader Sam Rainsy again Friday called for the declassification of the FBI’s original report into the attack.
Addressing more than 300 attendees, including some 100 monks and relatives of the slain, Sam Rainsy said he has also lodged a new complaint with a French court to investigate the attack.
“I appeal to the new American administration to declassify the original FBI report. I am also happy to tell you that, holding a French passport, I have lodged a complaint before the French court and that a French judge has been designated to investigate our case,” Sam Rainsy said.
The FBI investigated the attack after US citizen Ron Abney was injured in the leg by grenade shrapnel.
The Washington Post, which were leaked extracts of the FBI investigation, reported in 1998 that the FBI “tentatively pinned responsibility for the blasts, and subsequent interference, on personal bodyguard forces employed by Hun Sen.”
That report remains classified but a second FBI report was released in November 1998, leading many to speculate it was stalled because of the sensitivity of implicating government bodyguards in the attack.
Phi Thach, Sam Rainsy Party cabinet chief, said Friday the government had cooperated in granting permission for Friday’s commemoration at the stupa.
Last year skirmishes between opposition party supporters and police erupted over several weeks when a number of smaller stupas erected nearby were forcibly removed and destroyed by authorities who claimed the builders had no planning permission.
The location of the current stupa was brokered by Wiedemann, who attended meetings between Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara and Sam Rainsy.
Noting that police, who in the past broke up memorials to the grenade victims, were deployed Friday to provide security for the ceremony, Phi Thach said he hoped it signaled political reform in the government.
“Maybe with the passage of time [government officials] are changing their minds,” Phi Thach said.
“It is possible. But the [leaders] must want to change,” he said.
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