Police and court officials say they know little about the mysterious gunman whom two courts found guilty of murder in relation to the notorious Oct 27, 2003, car crash and shooting that left three people dead, four injured and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s nephew, Nhim Sophea, briefly behind bars.
According to court documents, Sam Doeun was 24 years old and lived in Phnom Penh’s Chaktomuk commune in Daun Penh district. The suspect’s house number was listed in the documents as “64EO,” but his street number was missing.
Appeals Court officials said Monday the missing street number was not an oversight but was either unknown or not included by municipal police or investigating court officials during the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s investigation of the crime.
Municipal Court Judge Tan Senarong said Monday that Sam Doeun was never arrested, but he couldn’t remember details.
“I have no idea about Sam Doeun,” he said. “The whole case I have almost forgotten. I have no idea about that case.”
Chaktomuk commune police also said they did not know anything about Sam Doeun.
One officer who refused to be named said there were only four houses with number 64 as their address in the commune and Sam Doeun was not at any of them.
“If Sam Doeun lived here, I would have had him arrested a long time ago,” the officer said. “But there is no Sam Doeun in this commune.”
The officer said the court had sent an order for Sam Doeun’s arrest earlier in the year, but after checking the four addresses, police came up empty.
Sam Mao, 40, said her family owned three of those homes in an alleyway off Sisowath Boulevard numbered 64, but she had never heard of Sam Doeun.
“There is nobody in my family named Sam Doeun,” she said outside her sparsely furnished home Monday. She said other officials had questioned her as well but also found nothing.
The fourth address was that of an Internet cafe on Sothearos Boulevard. The owner said she has owned the store for more than 10 years but had never heard of Sam Doeun and never been questioned by police.
Court and police officials last week also appeared unclear as to who was responsible for tracking down and arresting Sam Doeun.
Following a hearing in August, three Appeals Court judges cleared Nhim Sophea of an involuntary manslaughter conviction that was handed down by the municipal court in March. Appeals Court Presiding Judge Thou Mony said the court found Sam Doeun the only person responsible for the shootings that killed two people. Though the crash and shooting took place in Oct 2003, it wasn’t until Jan 14, 2004, that mention of Sam Doeun was made in court. He was convicted in absentia of intentional manslaughter and traffic violations by the Municipal Court and sentenced to 10 years in jail. He is still at large.
Kek Galabru, president of human rights NGO Licadho, questioned how police could be expected to find Sam Doeun if they didn’t even have his address. Many have wanted to know who Sam Doeun is and who fingered him as the gunman, especially since witnesses to the shooting interviewed by rights workers didn’t mention him. “Who is that man?” Galabru said.