Nearly two months after the abduction of a prominent lawmaker from his Phnom Penh home, police have been unable to find the prime suspect. But, police officials said last week they suspect his whereabouts may be known by King Norodom Sihanouk’s official biographer, Julio Jeldres, a Chilean author living in Bangkok.
Jeldres, a longtime friend of the King, said by e-mail last week he had not been contacted by any authorities concerning his friend, Huoth Ravouth, who police say is the prime suspect in the Oct 6 kidnapping of Sam Rainsy parliamentarian Lon Phon.
“I do not know, unfortunately, where Ravouth is,” Jeldres wrote. “I last saw him at the launching of my book in Phnom Penh,” the first week of November.
Four suspects were arrested in mid-November, including Huoth Ravouth’s brother and girlfriend. Huoth Ravouth allegedly fled on a motorcycle. Police have since have issued warrants for his arrest in all provinces, said Sok Pal, director of the information bureau at the Interior Ministry.
Jeldres wrote a letter to the King Nov 16, asking him to ensure any arrest of Huoth Ravouth was not violent. The letter has led police to suspect Jeldres knows his friend’s location.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said last week he was “not aware” whether authorities had tried to contact Jeldres. But, he said, “If Julio wrote the letter, we can say he knows the whereabouts of Huoth Ravouth. That’s why he wrote the letter.”
Deputy Municipal Police Chief Bith Kim Hong also said he believes Jeldres knows where his friend is, “but he does not cooperate with the authorities.”
Jeldres said that while he has not been contacted by the Interior Ministry nor the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok, he would be willing to cooperate in “any proper investigation.”
Lon Phon was abducted in Phnom Penh and held for three days before a ransom was paid to his kidnappers. While some officials maintain the kidnapping was personal, opposition party members say the kidnapping was part of a CPP campaign of political intimidation.