Officer, Family Man Killed as Rebel Fighter

Police Captain Hor Uy Sa­monn left his third job at about 1 am Friday to drive to his Tuol Kok home.

He never made it.

The 39-year-old officer in the Ministry of Interior’s intervention police was shot to death, one of a reported eight Cambodians to die in Friday’s alleged rebel raid on Phnom Penh.

His wife, Sou Sokunthea, says she doesn’t know what his political beliefs were, but she is sure of one thing: he was no Cambodian Freedom Fighter, the anti-government group blamed for the attack.

But Sim Hong, deputy municipal military police commander, said police are certain that only terrorists were killed in the fighting.

Earlier accounts put seven alleged insurgents dead after the gun battle with one civilian also reportedly killed. But on Monday Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara insisted that only four people died in the fighting

General Sok Phal of the In­terior Ministry said that while he did not know Hor Uy Samonn personally, military police said he was armed. “They said he was not killed by mistake,” Sok Phal said, though it is not unusual for intervention police officers to carry weapons.

But an armed insurgent is not the man Sou Sokunthea knew. She fought back tears Monday as she rocked their 10-month-old baby on her lap and described what she had learned.

On the ground behind her, female relatives listened as they rolled gold paper into slender spills, which will be arranged with  flowers and candles as offerings at his funeral ceremonies.

She said Hor Uy Samonn, a Funcinpec supporter, had worked at the Ministry of the Interior since 1993. He had risen to a captain’s rank in the intervention police.

But he didn’t earn enough to support his wife and three young children. So Hor Uy Samonn also worked two security jobs: at the Chinese-owned Chhuy Hen Chhun Co at the intersection of Monivong Boulevard and Street 214, and then at the nearby Karaoke 88.

Between the three jobs, he earned $300 per month.

Sou Sokunthea said her husband always came home right after his third job ended at 1 am. When he didn’t show up, she became worried, and called his hand phone.

A strange man answered. She thought she might have misdialled, and tried again. A strange man answered again.

By morning, she was seriously alarmed, and set out to retrace his steps. At the karaoke, workers told her they had tried to dissuade him from driving home, saying something seemed amiss in the city.

He apparently ignored the advice, and drove north on Monivong. His logical route, to turn west on Pochentong Boule­vard, would have taken him through the worst of the nearly two-hour firefight.

“I was very worried when I could not find him,” said Sou Sokunthea. Other relatives joined in the search and, finally, they heard that he might have been arrested. Then they heard there was a dead body at Wat Preah Put.

Sou Sokunthea went to the pagoda and found her husband, stripped to his underwear. He was dead, shot in the head, legs, and back. “They let me see him for a few minutes, and then they kicked me out,” she said. That evening she saw him again briefly before he was cremated.

“He was not involved in a revolution. He was just trying to earn a living,” she said. “If he were a Cambodian Freedom Fighter, why would he drive his car through the battlefield?”

Police still have the car at the Prampi Makara station, with the tiny child’s bicycle in the back seat.

With pride, she displays certificates he earned earlier this year: one from the National Police School, a second from the International Human Rights Law Group.

“He never talked to me about politics,” she said. “I don’t understand.”

(Additional reporting by Thet Sambath)





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