Police Say Still No Suspects in 2008 Journalist’s Murder

Phnom Penh police chief Touch Naruth said this week that authorities still have no suspects in the 2008 slaying of journalist Khim Sambor and his son Khat Sarintheada.

“We are cooperating with the FBI to investigate ever since it happened,” Mr Naruth said Tuesday.

Mr Sarintheada and Mr Sambor, a reporter for the pro-SRP newspaper Moneaksekar Khmer, were fatally shot on July 11 outside Preaputh pagoda in Prampi Makara district.

Municipal police chief Mr Naruth said most of the investigation results are being held by the FBI.

However, US Embassy spokesman John Johnson said the FBI’s assistance ended in 2008. According to Mr Johnson, the FBI provided–at the Cambodian government’s request–two investigators and a sketch artist for two weeks.

“That was the only assistance they provided,” he said.

Mr Johnson said the officers handed over everything they had and that he was not aware of any other records the FBI would currently possess.

Relatives and rights activists continue to pressure authorities for a resolution.

“I appeal to all authorities at all levels to arrest the gunmen, because until now my elder brother’s and my nephew’s murderers have been too quiet,” said Khim Rorang, Mr Sambor’s younger brother. “This is injustice for them in our Cambodian society.”

According to a July 12, 2009, statement from the Club of Cambodian Journalists, 200 of its members from across the country have condemned Mr Sambor’s and Mr Sarintheada’s slaying and appealed to authorities to arrest and try the killers.

But Mr Sambor was hardly alone. Since 1994, eight Cambodian journalists have either been murdered or escaped attempts on their lives by perpetrators who remain at large, according to a 2008 statement from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia. Another three journalists, it added, died under circumstances “that have not been resolved.”

“In the majority of cases where journalists have been killed, the authorities have stated that investigations are continuing, yet little or no progress has been made to date,” the statement reads. “To the knowledge of OHCHR, no one has been brought to justice for any of these crimes.”

Chan Soveth, chief of monitoring for the human rights group Adhoc, urged the courts to pursue Mr Sambor’s case and called on police to release their investigative results.

“There is serious impunity…and police are reluctant to reveal their report on the offenders,” he said.

“We are awaiting the results of the police investigation, but they only told us that they are researching and investigating the case,” said Am Sam Ath, senior human rights monitor for Licadho.

(Additional reporting by Zsombor Peter)


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