US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher wrote to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and FBI Director Louis Freeh on Monday, urging them to release the transcript of a June 1998 FBI interview with Chhay Vy—an alleged suspect in the deadly 1997 grenade attack on a rally led by opposition leader Sam Rainsy.
Chhay Vy, a former RCAF paratrooper, reportedly told US officials he had been hired by the government of Second Prime Minister Hun Sen to carry out the attacks that killed at least 17 people and injured about 150 in March 1997. But Chhay Vy reversed his position Monday when he and Chum Bunthoeun, a civilian, appeared at a Ministry of Information press conference claiming they had been coached by Sam Rainsy Party members to blame the government.
Rohrabacher, a California-based Republican and a member of the US House subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, wrote he had learned that, “Hun Sen’s security forces have captured Mr Vy and have coerced [the] statement from him.”
The letters said statements made by Chhay Vy in an earlier interview with the FBI in Bangkok could be crucial to “prevent a communist-style show trial” against Sam Rainsy. “I am requesting this information because this morning the international media reported that the Hun Sen regime is planning to arrest Mr Sam Rainsy, under the charge that he was somehow connected to the 1997 attack,” Rohrabacher wrote.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Interior filed court papers seeking unspecified charges against Sam Rainsy in connection with the attack.
A ministry statement, released on the same day, did not directly accuse the opposition leader of initiating the attack. But top members of the CPP have repeatedly suggested that the opposition leader may have had a hand in it in order to gain support and sympathy—a charge that is dismissed by the US Congressman.
“It is ludicrous for Mr Rainsy to be accused of planning his own assassination,” Rohrabacher wrote, citing press reports about how close Sam Rainsy was to getting killed in the attack.