Personal revenge, not politics, is thought to be the motive behind Tuesday’s shooting of a Khmer-language newspaper editor’s wife in Phnom Penh, police and human rights officials said Wednesday.
Vuth Sreileak, the 22-year-old wife of Sathea Ronakrath (Republican News) Editor Lim Rattana —was shot once in the face by two men on a motorcycle as she drove on Monireth Boulevard Tuesday, Chamkar Mon District Police Chief Lok Lon said.
“The offenders fired one shot through the left window and [the bullet] hit her in the cheek and [entered her] mouth,” said Prach Nhat, chief of the criminal and autopsy department at the Municipal Police. Vuth Sreileak was in serious condition Wednesday at Calmette Hospital.
Chief of Municipal Penal Police Khun Sophon said Wednesday the attack was not political. “The investigation police have concluded this case is revenge. It is not politically motivated,” he said.
Early last month, two men on a motorcycle placed a bomb on the roof of Vuth Sreileak’s car. The bomb failed to detonate and no one was hurt, police said.
Lim Rattana claimed then the attack was a political campaign to shut down his pro-Lon Nol-era newspaper.
The Republican News was suspended Sept 14 for 30 days after writing that King Norodom Sihanouk was partly responsible for Cambodia’s civil war. The paper previously was suspended in 1996 for printing a Lon Nol-era flag.
General Lon Nol ousted then-leader Prince Sihanouk in 1970 and ruled Cambodia until the Khmer Rouge took over in 1975.
Kek Galabru, president of local human rights group Licadho, said Wednesday that her investigators are looking into the attack, but it seems to be a personal dispute. “We don’t think it is political. If it is political they would shoot the husband not his wife,” she said, adding the attack might have resulted from a feud between jealous rivals.
According to Khun Sophon, the men who placed last month’s bomb also attacked Vuth Sreileak on July 2 and Sept 23.
On the first occasion, two men drove a motorcycle into Vuth Sreileak’s car. The same men later snatched her hand phone.
(Additional reporting by Kevin Doyle)