Sam Rainsy will seek justice for the victims of a 1997 grenade attack on an opposition rally once the opposition takes control of the government, the opposition party leader assured listeners to a roundtable call-in show aired on Voice of Democracy radio on Thursday.
But the search for justice cannot begin until the courts are independent, Sam Rainsy said.
He denied that he had put the grenade attack behind him—a topic so sensitive it induced Prime Minister Hun Sen to sue him for defamation last year.
“Sam Rainsy Party and myself will try the best to seek justice for all [those] who are victims of any violence and human rights abuses,” he said. “But in Cambodia the court is not independent…. We wait until there is an independent court and a true democracy and when the Sam Rainsy Party leads the country, then the victims will receive justice.”
Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the comments would not affect a recent compromise between CPP and the opposition, because Sam Rainsy had stopped accusing Hun Sen of orchestrating the attack.
Khieu Kanharith added that the government, too, would continue to seek justice in the case.
But he claimed that the only suspects were two men who have since died: one a former bodyguard for Sam Rainsy, the other a Funcinpec official.
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yim Sovann called any allegation that the real attackers were opposition supporters “ridiculous.”
Center for Social Development President Chea Vannath noted that, given Sam Rainsy’s recent meeting with Hun Sen, it was possible that CPP had given Sam Rainsy “a green light” to discuss the issue, and wondered if it was linked to a recent reshuffle within the municipal police department.
“Justice,” she said, “is when all sides are satisfied with the process. It depends on all the parties involved, on their interpretations of justice.”