Police Discount Politics in 3 Activist Killings

Police have discounted political motivation in the slayings of three party activists over the last two weeks, officials said Wednesday.

Police also disputed the alleged Sam Rainsy Party affiliation of a slain Takeo man, saying he was a CPP member.

Police on Wednesday were split over the suspected motive in the death of a Sihanoukville CPP party activist. Municipal Police Chief Em Bunsath said a personal dispute led to the brutal shooting death. But Mao Chandara, a top National Police general in charge of investigating allegations of political violence, said the murder was politically motivated.

Just before 10 pm on July 5, two unidentified gunmen armed with AK-47s ambushed and shot Sar Chitra, 33, Em Bunsath said. They shot the CPP commune-level worker four times as he was returning from a movie theater with his wife and son, Em Bun­sath said.

Sar Chitra’s infant son was grazed by a bullet and is recovering in Sihanoukville Hospital, he said. Authorities have two suspects in the case, he said, but no one has been arrested.

Police are calling the July 5 slaying of Sman Kim, a Funcin­pec party activist in Kompong Thom province, a personal dispute related to the victim’s alleged activities as a “witch,” or traditional medicine doctor.

Villagers accused Sman Kim of placing a curse that killed a local woman, according to Mao Chan­d­ara, who is also chief of headquarters for National Police. The woman’s father shot Sman Kim once while the victim was going out to plow his rice field, he said.

Provincial police are pursuing the suspect. Funcinpec officials have called the attack politically motivated and said Sman Kim was instrumental in securing local Cham support for the party.

Police are blaming robbery in the July 7 shooting of a Takeo man who the Sam Rainsy Party claimed as a member. But police say Hong Hay, a 32-year-old part-time motorcycle taxi driver, possessed a CPP membership card at the time of his death.

Hong Hay’s passenger shot him once after he stopped on a rural stretch of National Route 2 on the way to a Samraong district market, police said. Hong Hay’s name was reported July 11 as Hong Thay.

Hong Hay, whose motorcycle was stolen by his killer, died in a nearby hospital. Sam Rainsy Par­ty members have said Hong Hay was responsible for recruiting members in Samraong district.

The UN has reported a strong possibility that two extrajudicial executions in the last six weeks were politically motivated, while the government’s Cambo­dian Human Rights Committee has not labeled any of the killings as politically motivated.




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