Police Pursuing Suspect in Killing of Opposition Activist

One day after Sam Rainsy Par­ty activist Ti Van was fatally shot, po­lice do not have a suspect in custody, but say they are pursuing a suspect. Both Prampi Ma­ka­ra district police Chief Yim Si­mo­ny and friends and neighbors of the victim have identified the kill­er as army Major Som Sophi.

“I know the identity of the kill­er,” said Yim Simony. “I am asking the court for a warrant to ar­rest him, but I cannot say anything [about the motive] right now because we are still investigating.”

Sam Rainsy Party cabinet chief Phi Thach is convinced the mo­tive was political. “From our side we do not need any investigation, be­cause the killing is completely po­litical,” he said.

Witnesses agree Ti Van was shot once in the chest after cheering for the Sam Rainsy Party at a Chinese New Year celebration. The witnesses agree Ti Van and Som Sophi had known each oth­er for years, but they agree on little else.

Lim Marong, another Sam Rain­sy Party activist, said a group of people had been drinking and eating together when an argument began about the commune elections. He said several people were praising the Sam Rainsy Par­ty when Som Sophi, a CPP member, began to wave a gun at the group. Ti Van then stood up and shouted “Long live the Sam Rainsy Party,” after which Som Sophi allegedly shot once into the air and once at Ti Van, hitting him in the chest.

Another witness, who asked not to be identified, said the as­sail­ant wasn’t at the party, but shot the victim from outside the house.

A third witness, Heng Lim,  said Som Sophi fired the first shot into the air and then dropped the gun, which went off again and struck Ti Van in the chest.

The victim’s wife, Van Tha, said there was only one eyewitness to the shooting. That person was un­available for comment. (Ad­di­tion­al reporting by Molly Ball)



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