PM Reiterates Innocence in Grenade Attack

Prime Minister Hun Sen reiterated to municipal court officials this month that he had no involvement in the 1997 gre­nade attack on an opposition rally led by Sam Rainsy, according to court documents released Wednes­day.

Prosecutor Yet Chakriya questioned Hun Sen last week about his alleged role in the attack at the premier’s residence, but has not revealed how the meeting proceeded.

Court documents made available to reporters Wednesday quoted Hun Sen denying any role in the attack, in which assailants lobbed grenades into a crowd of peace­ful protesters and then es­caped through the ranks of the prem­ier’s bodyguards and into the vicinity of his compound. At least 16 protesters were killed and more than 100 injured.

Sam Rainsy, who was the ap­parent target of the grenades, has on several occasions fingered Hun Sen as the attack’s mastermind. He filed a formal complaint in February in Phnom Penh Mu­nic­ipal Court amidst a series of suits and countersuits between him and the prime minister.

In the documents, Hun Sen de­fended himself, saying: “I have never taken part in any unethical [attack] as Sam Rainsy has ac­cused me. Sam Rainsy’s accusation was an act of ill will meant to damage seriously my reputation.”

“Please, I ask that the judge of­fer me justice and decide according to law,” the documents read.

Sam Rainsy has said he ex­pects little real action from the Cam­bodian courts, and his law­yer said last week’s questioning of the premier was farcical.

Attorney Som Chandina criticized Yet Chakriya for conducting his questioning at Hun Sen’s house instead of issuing a court summons.

“These questions are not about finding out the truth. The an­s-wers are nothing important for the court,” Som Chandina said.

Sam Rainsy will appear in municipal court today for questioning in relation to a defamation suit that the premier filed against him in January. The premier is asking for $5 million in compensation for Sam Rainsy’s public com­ment implicating him in the Jan 22 killing of union activist and opposition leader Chea Vichea.

The 1997 attack was the subject of a controversial probe by the US Federal Bureau of In­ves­ti­gat­ion, which stopped its investigation a few months after the at­tack and classified much of its find­ings.                         Sam Rainsy has also filed a law­suit against Hun Sen in France.

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