Rocket Attack Suspect’s Extradition Debated

Sam Rainsy parliamentarians on Monday reiterated their criticisms of the government’s handling of the Sok Yoeun case during a National Assembly debate about an extradition treaty between Cambodia and China. 

The Thai and Cambodian governments are still wrangling over the extradition of opposition party activist Sok Yoeun, a suspect in a 1998 rocket attack in Siem Reap. Sok Yoeun has spent about the last six months in a Thai jail for immigration violations.

Opposition lawmakers praised Thailand for not immediately granting Cambodia’s extradition request. Passage to a neutral third country has been arranged for Sok Yoeun, but he could remain in jail indefinitely with the Thai and Cambodian governments unable to agree on the case.

Cheam Channy, an opposition lawmaker, said all the documents implicating Sok Yoeun were fabricated by the government, which he said is politically motivated in accusing the opposition activist.

The government charged that the 1998 attack was an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s life.

“Every document the government has created for the Sok Yoeun extradition is all completely unreliable,” Cheam Channy said. “That’s why Thailand has good reason not to deport him back to Cambodia.”

Cheam Channy was questioned by court officials for potential involvement in the rocket attack, which he denied.

Uch Kim An, secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, declined to address the comments made by opposition lawmakers, except to say that Thai­land has been slow to approve an extradition treaty with Cambodia, which ratified the treaty in 1994.

“Regarding the Sok Yoeun case, we have sent all the documents to Thailand and are waiting for an official reply,” Uch Kim An said. “We are also pushing Thailand to get the extradition treaty passed soon.”

In addition to the debate over Sok Yoeun, 85 lawmakers Mon­day unanimously approved an extradition treaty with China. Uch Kim An said the agreement will help both Cambodia and China prosecute criminals who try to flee from justice.


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