Tape Refutes Detention Claim: SRP

The SRP has released what it claims to be a recording of an interview with former SRP commune councilor Tim Norn that apparently refutes her claim that SRP officials detained her to prevent her from defecting to the ruling CPP.

Tim Norn’s claims of detention have led to the charging of SRP commune chief Thuon Saron by the Kompong Thom Provincial Court, as well as the issuing of arrest warrants for two other Kompong Thom SRP officials.

According to the recording, which was allegedly made during a Feb 17 interview at SRP headquarters, Tim Norn appears to be asking the opposition party for help.

In the recording, Tim Norn alleges that Sok Pheng, a former SRP lawmaker and now CPP government adviser, promised to pay her an unspecified salary if she also defected to the CPP.

“I was very scared. [Sok Pheng] called me on my phone, but I turned it off,” Tim Norn said in the recording, which has been posted on the SRP’s official Web site.

Also in the recording, Tim Norn alleges that Sok Pheng’s wife offered her $20,000 to thumbprint a document that she didn’t read.

SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said the recording was posted to the Web site as evidence that Tim Norn and Sok Pheng’s allegations were false.

Sok Pheng, whom Prime Minister Hun Sen appointed to investigate Tim Norn’s claims, said Wednesday that Tim Norn’s recorded statements were false and were made under duress.

“What Tim Norn said at the SRP office was not reliable because she was under SRP pressure,” he said, adding that he had promised Tim Norn $200 for “humanitarian” reasons—not $20,000.

Tim Norn declined to comment Thursday, claiming that she was not feeling well.

On Thursday, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, along with the Committee for Free and Fair Elections and the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free Elections in Cambodia, issued a statement condemning Thuon Saron’s arrest, saying it was politically motivated.

(Additional reporting by James Welsh)

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