UN Pegs Two Recent Killings as Likely Political Murders

The UN on Thursday reported that at least two recent killings have a “high likelihood” of being politically motivated, one of which appears to have been carried out by local authorities.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ second report on allegations of rights violations related to the electoral process lists “several dozen” new allegations between June 28 and Sun­day. The most serious are the ex­ecution of a Reastr Niyum act­ivist in Kompong Thom, and various beatings and detentions of members of Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party.

Also, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cam­bodia released a state­ment Thurs­day citing “widespread” el­ection-related violence. It said the incidents are “a significant setback to the effort to uphold free and fair nationwide polls.

“Comfrel is dissatisfied with the failure so far of the National El­ection [Committee] and government agencies to come forth with answers or take measures to solve problems such as election-related killings, threats and intimidation,” the report said.

The report cites 15 shootings, vandalisms of party signboards and threats, and calls on the NEC to “seek action from the competent authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

In the June killing of a Sam Rain­sy Party member in Tbong Khmum district of Kompong Cham, the UN alleges local au­thorities were seen arresting the victim just before he disappeared.

Six men, including the village chief, commune police and the militia chiefs, blindfolded and handcuffed Em Eam, 62, the UN wrote. The men searched him and seized “party documents” from Em Eam, the UN said.

The men took him toward a nearby rubber plantation, where his battered body was exhumed from a shallow grave June 19, the report states. He is be­lieved to have disappeared June 10.

The government’s Cambodian Human Rights Committee has ruled out personal revenge and robbery in Em Eam’s death. The new panel has not judged any killings to be politically motivated.

In the death of Thong Sophal last month in Kandal province, “the attitude of the police and local authorities” and the circumstances of the Funcinpec member’s disappearance suggest a pol­itical motive, the UN report says. Thong Sophal was a Fun­cinpec commune-level election observer. Police have said a preliminary investigation of the death indicated suicide.

The UN also reports there are “strong indications of a political motive” in the shooting death of Thong Soy, a deputy commune representative for Reastr Niyum in Kompong Cham province. Local police told UN investigators that Thong Soy had several disagreements with villagers.

He was slain on or about June 24 and left in a rice field, his face covered with charcoal and a kra­ma. He had been denied permission to erect a Reastr Niyum sign two weeks earlier, the UN report says, citing party officials.

A man arrested in connection with the June 23 killing of Fun­cinpec member Chan Vichet, 40, in Pursat province claimed he was innocent, when he was interviewed by UN investigators.

“[He] said he had signed a confession prepared by and read to him by the police because he is illiterate,” the report says. “How­ever, he could not remember the details of his confession.” Police have connected Chan Vichet’s killing to his alleged work as a traditional medicine doctor.

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