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.