US Denies Involvement in Chea Vichea Case

The US Embassy said emphatically on Monday that it has not par­ticipated in the investigation into the killing of union leader Chea Vichea and has no plans to.

On Sunday, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said that Co-Minister of the Interior Sar Kheng had granted permission for a team from the US to assess the controversial investigation.

But embassy spokesman David Gainer said that the US is only maintaining contact with police and senior government officials in­volved in the case.

“We carry out such contacts to keep ourselves and Washington in­­­formed and to press for an ef­f­ec­tive investigation,” he said, de­­c­l­i­­n­ing to elaborate on meetings be­­­tween US and Cambodian officials.

Sar Kheng and Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment Monday.

Several human rights groups have voiced concern that the investigation has been marred by wrongful arrests and that suspects and witnesses may have been subject to police intimidation.

Investigating Judge Hing Thi­r­ith interviewed Monday the ow­­ner of the newspaper stand where Chea Vichea was shot Jan 22.

“The judge asked me three questions,” Var Sothy said later.

“Did I see the killer’s face? Are the two arrested the real killers? What do the killers look like? I could not answer because I did not see the faces.”

She added that she is afraid for her life because her testimony about the shooting differed with that of suspect Born Samnang, who has pleaded guilty. She did not elaborate on the differences.


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