PM’s Chief Bodyguard May Drop Lawsuit

The head of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit will decide by Fri­day whether to drop a defamation lawsuit against two opposition officials and two alleged suspects in the 1997 grenade attack, an official said Wednesday.

Eang Sarun, the bodyguard official in charge of the lawsuit, said Hing Bun Heang would remain on un­decided until that time, though he indicated that it may well be dropped.

“Samdech [Hun Sen] has al­­ready compromised. There is no prob­lem [with the lawsuit],” Eang Sarun said.

Hing Bun Heang filed the defam­ation lawsuit against Tioulong Sau­m­ura, opposition lawmaker and wife of self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy, and former opposition sec­retary-general Eng Chhay Eang. The lawsuit also targets Chhay Vee, who confessed to taking part in the attack, and Chum Bon Thoeun, who claimed he re­cruited Chhay Vee in an interview recorded on DVD and distributed to media and rights groups.

The lawsuit was originally filed in Military Court on Aug 25 and transferred six days later to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. The 1997 gre­n­ade attack on a peacef­ul dem­onstration killed more than a dozen people and wounded 120 others.

On Tuesday, Eng Chhay Eang said he was not afraid of the lawsuit.

“I am not concerned by the lawsuit. I didn’t defame him,” he said. Nonetheless, he said he thought Hing Bun Heang should drop the suit in light of recent compromises.

On Friday, Sam Rainsy sent a letter to Hun Sen, saying he regretted linking him to the attack.

In December, Sam Rainsy was sen­­tenced in absentia to 18 months in prison, partly for linking the prime minister to the attack. Hun Sen re­sponded to Sam Rainsy’s con­­ciliatory letter by asking King Nor­o­dom Sihamoni to pardon Sam Rain­sy. That pardon was an­nounced Sunday on national tele­vi­sion; Sam Rainsy plans to return Fri­day.

Eng Chhay Eang urged the government not to set the case aside amid the rush of political activity.

“We want an investigation to find the killers,” he said.


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