Sam Rainsy Testifies on Grenade Blast

Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy has been questioned by a French court in Paris about the March 1997 grenade attack that left at least 17 people dead. 

Sam Rainsy, a French citizen, filed a complaint at the Paris court because he believes he was the victim of an assassination attempt, and the Cambodian authorities will not seriously investigate the case, he said Friday.

“I want to involve the independent and competent French judiciary in order to help shed light on this tragedy and render justice to the victims or their families,” Sam Rainsy said.

Sam Rainsy met with investigating judge Baudoin Thouvenot on Thursday and there may be other witnesses called, Sam Rainsy said, including other party officials. Senior party member Yim Sovann said Friday he did not know if anyone from the government would be asked to come before the court.

“He [the judge] takes the case very seriously,” Sam Rainsy said.

Sam Rainsy was leading the anti-corruption rally when five grenades exploded, leaving more than 100 people injured. No one has ever been arrested for the attack, which Sam Rainsy claims was carried out by government security forces.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak defended the government’s investigation, saying the case is not yet closed.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation also investigated the attack, but came up with an inconclusive report. Sam Rainsy has asked that FBI documents relating to the incident be made public, claiming they may hold clues as to who orchestrated the attack.

But US Ambassador Kent Wied­emann said at an anniversary ceremony for the attack that no additional evidence would likely be found in the FBI’s report, adding that there was no cover-up attempt by the US, which maintains relatively friendly ties with the Hun Sen government.

Sam Rainsy erected a stupa to honor the victims of the grenade attack in the park in front of the National Assembly, where the attack took place.


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