Sunday, 18 May 2008

Police Blotter: 16 May 2008

Written by The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 16 May 2008

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post at

May 5: A 39-year-old woman was arrested in Kampong Cham province for allegedly defrauding two local women of $10,290 after she failed to follow through on promises of arranged marriages with Khmer men living overseas. Police said Long Chakrya was arrested after they were alerted to the agreement by brides-to-be Ang Chhengmuoy, 25, and Ham Thol, 45, who said they paid Chakrya more than $10,000 for wedding services that never eventuated.

May 7: Huy Hon, 63, and his family were robbed at their home in Baray district, Kampong Thom province, by two men wielding AK-47s who made off with 3.2 million riels the family had recently earned from selling buffalo for three days. Police said Hon’s family was preparing to go to bed at 9pm when they heard loud banging on their front door. The two robbers outside demanded the buffalo earnings as well as money from a land sale Hon was involved in, which police said Hon had yet to receive.

May 7: Police arrested two men who got drunk at a Kampong Cham high school and then tapped on classroom windows, peaked inside and shouted loudly at students. Police said Sim Ratany, 19, and Vuth Sokhon, 25, were part of group that had drunk “many liters” of alcohol in the afternoon and had gone to Choun Nath high school to make trouble.

May 8: Kandal province police arrested a 20-year-old man they say killed a student on a motorbike by throwing a brick at the victim’s head. Police said the suspect, Sar Sokchet of Rokar Kpos commune, Saang district, was drunk when he tossed the brick at Kuok Vicheka, 21, a grade 12 student at Saang College who died in hospital.

May 8: Military police of Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district arrested a suspected drug dealer, Sok Dara, 41, after they saw him behaving suspiciously in the capital’s Srah Chak neighborhood at 10:30pm. Police said a search of the man revealed 15 packets of white powder, one packet of pink powder, 11 pink tablets, two black tablets and equipment for smoking drugs.

May 9: A man was killed in an afternoon drinking session gone bad after being sliced four times with hooked knife in a village in Siem Reap province. Chay Pren, 25, of Kaksen Tbong village, was chopped on the head, neck, left armpit and had his ear cut off in the attack, which occurred at about 2pm. Police arrested Touch Yoeum, 39, who they say was feuding with Pren and had been carrying a sickle as well as a hooked knife at the time of the murder.

May 13: A married couple in their 70s were murdered in Sath Pong village, Chhouk district, Kampot province, allegedly by their son, who police say repeatedly struck the couple’s heads with an axe. The suspect, Yim Phet, 38, is yet to be arrested for the killings of his parents, Ngan Yeng, 79, and San Yan, 73.

May 13: A couple was injured and their baby killed in a robbery in Kampong Speu province. Gold trader Nov Sarom, 39, and his wife Lay Phen, 32, were riding their motorbike home from their gold shop in Peanichkam village, Chba Mon district, at 5:10pm when the robbery took place. Sarom was struck with a gun and had a sack of gold and cash taken from him. Phen, who was carrying her child, was shot once in the stomach. The bullet passed through her to hit one-year-old Ly Lay Lay in the head.

May 13: A hotel owner in Stung Treng province was arrested at 6pm on charges of producing and selling drugs in Phnom Penh last August. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court had issued an arrest warrant for Chen Yon An, 37, the owner of the Sok San Hotel in Stung Treng. The court also issued search warrants for the hotel and a second location in order to gather evidence against Yon An.

May 14: A gunfight between police and a group of robbers in Phnom Penh resulted in the death of one robber, while four police officers sustained injuries. Tuol Kok police chief Huot Chanyaran said police received a call at 2:30am about a home break-in at No. 16 Street 219. Four police officers responded to the call to find a group of men breaking down the house door and in the process of removing a $2,000 motorbike. The thieves then opened fire on the police, Chanyaran said, hitting the officers. Police then returned fire, killing one man in his 30s. The others escaped.

May 18, 2008: Mr. Keo Phirum (MP candidate for Sihanouk Ville) met with Hon. Annette King MP, in New Zealand

Mr. Phirum discussed several issues about Cambodia and asked NZ Government to send International observers to Cambodia for the elections.

Opposition finds common ground only in CPP’s shadow

TANG CHHIN SOTHY/ AFP SRP leader Sam Rainsy has had to contend not only with the long shadow cast by the dominant Cambodian People’s Party but also bickering within the opposition, including claims he has a secret relationship with the CCP that allows only his party to hold public demonstrations.

Written by Un Kheang
Friday, 16 May 2008

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post at

As the prices of oil and food rise and the US dollar weakens, Cambodia has seen inflation soar close to 20 percent. Economic uncertainty arising in an election year has led Cambodian politicians and political parties to capitalize on economic hardship to attract voters – leading to charges and countercharges of manipulation, intimidation and incompetence that have spread beyond the economic realm toward personal attacks. This analysis documents these quarrels and strategies that the different parties have adopted.

F acing increasing inflation, particularly in food and basic necessities, the government has taken measures to lessen the pinch Cambodians face through emergency releases of government food reserves and increased salaries for government employees including teachers.

The opposition parties, however, charged that the government had not done enough to help consumers. They attributed inflation to the government’s structural problems involving corruption, incompetence, and nepotism. Although there might be some truth to these charges, inflation pressure, given the age of global economic interconnectedness, is largely driven by global factors.

Opposition in competitionOn March 6, the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) organized a demonstration to demand that the government take decisive action against inflation.

This demonstration had multiple purposes. First, it could serve as an event that might help shift public focus from the recent SRP debacle over the defections of some its members; the SRP has been on the defensive and is now trying to shift to the offensive. Second, the demonstration aimed to expose government weakness in tackling economic issues.

While the SRP had planned for a massive demonstration with several thousand participants, the turnout was substantially lower with fewer than 500 protesters.

The party blamed the low turnout on government intimidation and restrictions on demonstrations, which were justified with false pretexts regarding social order and stability.

Interestingly, other opposition parties – that is, the Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP) and the Human Rights Party (HRP) – had different views toward the SRP-organized demonstration.

The NRP alleged the low turnout signified declining SRP strength. The only solution, it claimed, which could help strengthen the SRP and the opposition camp as a whole, was to join the NRP in a “union of democrats.”

This appeal has been part of an ongoing effort by Prince Ranariddh to stage a political comeback, which has been difficult and appeared increasingly uncertain given Prime Minister Hun Sen’s recent remarks about not wanting to see royalist family members involved in politics.

The HRP, on the other hand, alleged that the SRP maintained secret relations with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), a connection that enabled the SRP to acquire permission to organize a demonstration.

It should be noted that the HRP has in the recent past made repeated efforts to obtain permission from the government to organize a demonstration against inflation – particularly regarding rising oil prices – but to no avail.

HRP’s accusation of secret relations between the SRP and the CPP, and the NRP’s downplaying of the impact of the SRP’s organized demonstration, stem from the fact that the SRP, the NRP and the HRP are in competition with one another in an effort to differentiate themselves from the CPP.

Each of the parties needs to present themselves as a viable alternative party for those who are dissatisfied with the CPP.

CPP as savior

Another contested issue is the government’s plan to heighten security through increasing deployment of security personnel around election time.

The opposition parties accused the government of manufacturing fear among voters.

The government rejected this accusation claiming that such action was necessary to ensure security and order during the elections.

Arguably, the government’s plan to enhance security is part of its strategy to show the Cambodian public that the CPP/government is the pillar of peace and stability, as evidenced by its success in ending the civil war.

This is true given that both the international community and other political parties had no effective strategies to deal with the Khmer Rouge following the 1993 United Nations sponsored elections.

But increasing the number of security forces surrounding elections is cause for concern and does not seem warranted as it might lead opposition parties to question the legitimacy of the elections.

While the opposition parties have raised the issues of corruption, nepotism and sluggishness in passing an anti-corruption law in order to delegitimize the CPP, the ruling party’s legitimacy and support remain significantly high.

This stems from the CPP’s ability to create and maintain a web of patronage politics.Pro-CPP newspapers reported increased activities of working groups – some of which are joined by recent SRP defectors – which went down to the base to bring gifts to potential voters.

These activities were to assure voters of the CPP’s role in national development.

This is the CPP’s strength. Despite alleged and real corruption, the CPP will be able to capture support with its extensive patronage networks.

The Vietnam question

As expected, opposition parties will use the Vietnamese card during election campaign as they have done during previous elections.

Pro-opposition newspapers alleged that the ruling party allowed illegal Vietnamese residents to vote. This allegation warrants debate and might constructively lead to better immigration policy.

However, some opposition newspapers go so far as to irresponsibly allege that the CPP/government requested that the Vietnamese government send security forces to Cambodia during the elections to help strengthen the CPP’s position.

This is an independent analysis on Media Monitoring extracted from 13 Cambodia-based newspapers. The views expressed in the Media Monitoring Analysis are those of the author, Dr Un Kheang, assistant director at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University.

Coalition urges govt to forgive Ranariddh

Written by Vong Sokheng and Cheang Sokha
Friday, 16 May 2008

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post at

A coalition of seven non-government organizations has called on the government to order the withdrawal of legal complaints against Prince Norodom Ranariddh so he and his party can participate in the July 27 general election.

“It is necessary for all political parties who are preparing themselves for participation in the election to have an opportunity for full and equal competitions,” the groups said in a joint statement released on May 8.

“The Prince has to stay outside the country due to a pending criminal case in the court. So far, there has been no attempt for a political resolution that would allow him to return to Cambodia and to fully participate in the elections,” the statement said.

The groups urged the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and its coalition partner, Funcinpec, to reach a compromise that would allow Ranariddh, who is living in self-imposed exile, to return home and campaign on behalf of his eponymous political party.

However, Thun Saray, the president of one of the groups, the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (Adhoc), said he did not expect that the CPP would compromise on the issue.

And the first vice president of Ranariddh’s former party Funcinpec, Lu Laysreng, told the Post on May 15 he was opposed to any political resolution that would pave the way for the prince’s return.

Laysreng said the NGOs should put their request to the courts, rather than to the parties in the coalition government.

Ranariddh was expelled from Funcinpec in October 2006 over allegations of poor performance during the general election three years earlier.

After he subsequently resigned as President of the National Assembly, Funcinpec filed two lawsuits against him.

One of the lawsuits alleging that he committed adultery is still before the courts.

The court ruled against him in the other suit, which accused him of profiting illegally from the sale of the party’s headquarters.

Ranariddh, who has been living in Malaysia and France, formed the Norodom Ranariddh Party soon after he was expelled from Funcinpec.

A CPP lawmaker, Cheam Yeap, said his party could not respond to the call from the groups because it was unable to interfere in the internal affairs of another party.“This is an issue between Funcinpec and the prince,” he said.

Apart from Adhoc, the groups that signed the statement are the Center for Social Development, the Cambodian Defenders’ Project, the Khmer Institute for Democracy, the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia and the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia.

British bar owner faces deportation

TRACEY SHELTON David Finch’s Broken Bricks bar on Street 130 was seized by police on May 5 following an assault on a female worker.

Written by Nguon Sovan
Friday, 16 May 2008

Courtesy of Phnom Penh post at

British bar owner arrested earlier this month after a fight with one of his female staff that left the woman beaten unconscious is facing assault charges and the likely expulsion from Cambodia, police say.

David Finch, whose bizarrely decorated Broken Bricks bar had emerged as one of the more talked about establishments on Phnom Penh’s expatriate drinking scene, was seized May 5 by police after he allegedly assaulted his staff member.

“The victim was beaten unconscious and her left arm was twisted,” said Chhit Vuthy, deputy chief of the Phsar Kandal I Police Department, adding that police were forced to rescue Finch, 42, from an angry crowd of onlookers who attacked him after the assault.

“He was beaten and received facial injuries. Fortunately, our police arrived on time, otherwise he would have been beaten to death,” Vuthy said.

Cambodia’s Deputy Commissioner of National Police, Sok Phal, told the Post that Finch is currently being held by the immigration police while the Ministry of Interior decides whether he will be expelled from Cambodia.

Neighbors around Finch’s Broken Bricks said that he frequently argued loudly with his staff and that the bar had become a nuisance.

“He decorated his bar like a haunted house,” said 66-year-old Sok Huong, who said his home shares a wall with the Broken Bricks bar.

“Some nights, when we were sleeping, there was the sound of arguments from the bar between the man and the staff and sometimes he threw glasses or bottles at the front of my house, leaving fragments scattered on the ground.”

Deadly drug bust highlights lack of police training

Written by Sebastian Strangio and Kay Kimsong
Friday, 16 May 2008

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post at

The fatal shooting of two police officers during a botched drug raid last month has highlighted a lack of training and funds for Cambodia’s police force, according to foreign advisors who say it is unclear whether lower-ranking police officials were benefiting from donor law enforcement aid.

The double murders of officers Chhoeng Virak and Sreng Bunareth, who died in a hail of bullets fired by an already handcuffed suspect, has further raised questions over the preparedness of Cambodia’s police force.

Three other officers were seriously wounded on April 22 after the suspect, Kep Samon – who is also reported to be a police officer – surprised them by pulling a handgun out of his pants pocket and opening fire, after he had been taken into custody following a drugs raid in Phnom Penh’s Phsar Thmei II commune.

Rod Broadhurst, an Australian criminologist with more than 10 years’ involvement with Cambodia, said Cambodia’s police force remains plagued by funding and manpower shortages despite years of foreign assistance.

Since 1997, the Kingdom has received tens of millions of dollars from Australia alone to train and equip its police force through the Cambodian Criminal Justice Assistance Program (CCJAP).

“There have been all sorts of problems with resources and training, and there is a shortage of well-trained police at the commune level,” said Broadhurst, who was involved in the first phase of the program from 1997 to 2002.

He praised the work of the CCJAP but said the program’s implementation and training was still haphazard at the lower levels of the police force.

“[CCJAP] has prepared sensible procedural and training manuals, which have allowed police in Cambodia to be trained to a reasonably professional standard,” he said.

“The problem, obviously, is whether or not that’s been able to cascade down throughout the force.”

Australia’s current team leader of the CCJAP, Larry Proud, said the program’s focus has also shifted away from the basic procedural training that would have applied in the shootings.

“We’re mostly concerned with developing the executive level of the organisation,” he said.No internal police investigation into the handling of Samon’s arrest is expected.

Buddhists celebrate Visakha Puja

Quad-City Times
By Mary Louise Speer
Saturday, May 17, 2008

The venerable Somnieng Hoeurn, a Buddhist monk from Cambodia, welcomed visitors to his Rock Island home Saturday for a celebration of Visakha Puja, or Happy Buddha Day.“You see flowers and the candles.

The candle, or the light, it is a symbol of enlightenment, that the teachings of the Buddha are a way to find peace and happiness in our life,” he said.

Saturday’s gathering marked the beginning of a three-day observance of the day Siddhartha Gautama was born in 563 BC. During the three days, people meditate and practice the precepts taught by the Buddha.

“This is an important day for Buddhists to do good deeds,” he said.

Girls you can sell over and over again

The Oregonian
Sunday, May 18, 2008

O n a January day in 2004, 14-year-old Ashley Pond came home and told her parents how much she was enjoying her sophomore year at Rocklin High School, just north of Sacramento. "She never wanted to move from Rocklin," her father recalled. "She wanted to live there forever."

The following night, Ashley and the rest of the family -- her parents, James and Athena, and two younger siblings -- sat down and watched a "Dateline" NBC special, "Children for Sale," on Cambodia's sex traffic in children.

Then they held a team meeting on how to respond to what they'd seen. What the Ponds decided changed everything, not only for Ashley but for at least another 97 teenage girls on the other side of the world.

This is a story about a family and a ministry and an international tragedy . . . and I wouldn't be surprised if a few readers are struggling to focus right about now. That name -- Ashley Pond -- still paralyzes so many of us who were living in the Portland area in 2002, when she and Miranda Gaddis disappeared in Oregon City, the final victims of Ward Weaver.

The two Ashley Ponds were the same age. But while the Ashley who died in Oregon endured years of sexual abuse, much of it at the hands of her biological father, the Ashley who grew up in California is the daughter of parents so determined to stop the prostitution and rape of children in Southeast Asia that they moved their family to Cambodia in 2005.

James Pond had a background in intelligence and special operations with the Marines. His experience with drug interdiction helped him to understand what's driving the country's $30 billion industry in human trafficking and sex slavery.

"The traffickers I've met personally have a moral ambivalence that's clouded by how lucrative it is," Pond said. "Drugs and guns you can only sell once. People you can sell over and over again."

After several months in Cambodia, the Ponds decided the greatest need was a sanctuary in which the victims of the sex trade, virgins at 12 and veterans at 15, could begin the recovery process.

A place where they could receive medical care for their sexually transmitted diseases and dental work on the teeth that had been knocked out by the most zealous of the American sex tourists. A safe house in Phnom Penh where the girls could be tutored in 21st century job skills.

So it was that James and Athena Pond formed Transitions Cambodia, an Oregon-based nonprofit designed to provide freedom and hope for victims of abuse and exploitation. To benefit their work, special screenings of the film "Holly," which stars Ron Livingston, Chris Penn and Thuy Nguyen, will be 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Hollywood Theater.

James Pond estimates there are 27 million victims of the human slave trade in the world; 97 emotionally and physically battered girls have entered their program. Because many of the girls are 14 or 15, and "still in their prime," Pond said, "we've had traffickers pursue some of them.

But there is so much residual product that they've decided why go after those girls when you can just recondition a new one."

And while the Cambodian government has finally grown embarrassed that it's the hub of the world sex trade, Pond said, Chinese and Korean mobsters are moving in, muscling out the local brothel owners and forming VIP clubs for government officials, "which in reality are high-class, high-security commercial sex operations."

Yet he holds on to the same hope he's offering the girls in the face of the brutality that has haunted his family since that January night in 2004. It's a cruel and vicious world, as many Ashley Ponds out there know, and you can only hope to change it one life, one girl, at a time.

Fifth Suspect Detained in Cambodian Kidnap, Murder of British Land Mine Clearer

By VOA News
17 May 2008

Cambodian authorities have detained a fifth suspect in the 12-year-old kidnapping and murder case of two men who were clearing land mines.

Former Khmer Rouge fighters abducted Christopher Howes of Bristol, England, and his interpreter Huon Huot along with other members of a team removing land mines near Cambodia's Angor Wat temple in 1996.

Most of the team was released, but evidence later showed Howes and Huot were executed in rebel-held territory.

Cambodian authorities took 52-year-old Puth Lim into custody and charged him in the case Friday. Five other former Khmer Rouge fighters also face charges which could carry a life sentence if convicted.

Events to aid children in Cambodia; Yoga teacher hopes to raise $30,000

The Kingston Whig-Standard
Saturday, May 17, 2008

In the early part of the decade, Kingston yoga teacher Amanda Daniels spent close to two years touring Cambodia. She returned home profoundly affected by the poverty and suffering she had witnessed.

Daniels recently pledged to raise $30,000 by December for the Cambodian Children's Fund, a registered charity that provides poor and abused children with health care, education, food and job training.

On Monday, Daniels is holding the first of a series of events to kick-start her campaign. A "full moon Yoga for Cambodia" celebration will take place from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Feel Yoga Studio, 80 Princess St. Suggested donation is $10 or more.

On Friday, the Spencer Evans Trio, along with Chris Brown, will perform at the Grad Club on Barrie Street in support of Daniels' campaign. Tickets cost $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Music begins at 9:30 p.m.

Daniels said in a release that her goal is to support the children's fund and urge all Kingstonians "to remember our fundamental interdependence and to act from this awareness," and to foster world citizenship by connecting Kingston with Cambodia.

Ghosts of Phnom Penh past

The Independence Monument built to symbolise Cambodia's independence from France.

The Royal Palace buildings.

Bornco Bulletin
May 17, 2008Saturday

The music starts at five in the morning after which sleep is almost impossible. It comes from a loudspeaker mounted on a dilapidated building facing the market square near our hotel. Sunrise is still an hour away but by the time it is light, the market is already busy with people going about their daily business.

Market traders who had spent the night at their stalls rearrange produce or chat with their neighbours. Barrow boys with wooden carts laden with fruits, sacks of rice or tins of paint ferry their purchases or stocks to and from the market. This early morning scene was our first introduction to the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, located at the confluence of three rivers, the Mekong, the Bassac and Tonle Sap.

Phnom Penh city is divided into three sections: the north, an attractive residential area, the south or the French part of the city with its ministries, banks and colonial houses and the centre or the heart with its narrow lanes, markets, foods stalls and shops.

Having risen early, we decided to head out to the Killing Fields of Cheung Ek. The ubiquitous motorbike taxis are like swarms of mosquitoes in Cambodia. As soon as we stepped out of the hotel, someone would yell from across the road, "Moto?" We shake ours heads, "no", and walk a few paces. Another guy beside the first one shouts, "Moto?" and another one races towards us on his moto to ask again, "Moto?". After negotiating the price, we hire one to have a quick tour of the city.

A stone's throw away from the Tonle Sap river is the Royal Palace which contains several buildings: the Throne Room, used for the coronation of kings, official receptions and traditional ceremonies; the Chan Chhaya Pavilion, a venue for dance performances; the king's official residence called the Khemarin; the Napoleon Pavilion and the spectacular Silver Pagoda with its many national treasures such as gold and jewelled Buddha statues.

Ms. Mu Sochua Considers Acid Attacks to Be Crimes

Ms. Mu Sochua Considers Acid Attacks to Be Crimes That Cannot Be Condoned; There Is a Rumor Saying that Brigadier General Chea Ratha Has Been Removed from Her Position to Open an Inquest

Posted on 18 May 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 560

“With no law to define specifically the penalty for acid attacks, several officials said more or less the same, ‘There will be a trial of this case of an acid attack, based the the obvious damage which has been inflicted on the victim’s appearance.’

“However, the deputy secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party and former Minister of Women’s Affairs Ms. Mu Sochua said, ‘Acid attacks, which often target women, should be considered a crime which is heavier than just bodily injury.’

“This statement was made after there was an acid attack against Ms. In Soklida’s aunt, Ms. Ya Soknim, after there had been threats by phone from a deputy staff officer of the National Military Police, Ms. Chea Ratha, and after the arrest of the suspect Ea Puthy, accused to have used a weapon illegally.

“According to Ms. In Soklida’s statement from a hiding place in an interview with Radio Free Asia, she said clearly, ‘When living with Brigadier General Ms. Chea Ratha I felt scared already as if I was like a dead person, though I was alive.’

“Ms. In Soklida said, ‘The period that I had relations with Ms. Chea Ratha was since she was deputy head of the Phnom Penh police. Now she is in the Military Police under the command of [National Military Police commander] Sao Sokha.’

“Ms. In Soklida continued between sobs, ‘She has gone into hiding for five weeks, but few days ago, I saw the information in a newspaper, publishing the acid attack on my aunt, which causes me real pain.’

“Moreover, Ms. In Soklida said, ‘I know that they are searching for me at all my relatives’ houses. Furthermore, they threatened and insulted my relatives in many ways, though the relatives don’t know anything about me; but they accuse my relatives that they hide me.’
“What Ms. In Soklida said shows the way for the authorities at all levels to find the criminals who conducted an acid attack on Ms. Ya Soknim at 10:10 a.m. of 8 May 2008 in front of the RAC [?] clinic.

“Additionally, Ms. Ya Siyet, Ms. In Soklida’s mother, told journalists about this bad episode, ‘At the end of 2006, Ms. Chea Ratha started loving my daughter and took my daughter to live with her.’

“Then, when Ms. In Soklida hid herself from the hands of Ms. Chea Ratha, Ms. Ya Siyet said, ‘Ms. Chea Ratha was very angry and she accused In Soklida’s aunt – Ms. Ya Soknim who was attacked by acid – that she was the person who hides In Soklida.’

“Ms. Ya Siyet added that before the acid attack on the victim Ya Soknim, Ms. Chea Ratha and her followers had checked the victim’s house to find In Soklida, but they did not see her. At that time, Ms. Chea Ratha made a phone call to threaten the victim to return In Soklida to her, otherwise the whole family would not be able to live happily.

“Ms. Ya Siyet claimed that because Ms. Chea Ratha had threatened her younger sister very often, the victim decided to record Ms. Chea Ratha’s voice as evidence.

“It should be noted that on Wednesday, an arrest warrant for four suspects – who are all related to the acid attack on the victim Ya Soknim who is now being operated in Yuon [Vietnam] – was issued.

“[The director general of the National Police] Mr. Hok Lundy stated cautiously that he did not want to give detailed information to journalists, but he said that now, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued a warrant to arrest three or four suspects.

“Regarding this shocking case, [the Sam Rainsy Party deputy secretary-general and] the former Minister of Women’s Affairs Ms. Mu Sochua said on Wednesday, ‘Acid attacks which often target women should be considered to be a crime that is heavier than just bodily injury.’

“She stressed, ‘The victim can be considered to belong to a special group, similar to rape victims. And the crime is heavier than stabbing a person with a knife, because it leaves scars on the body, hurts the feeling, and creates mental problems.

“The Deputy Secretary-General also reminded the public that when she was Minister of Women’s Affairs in 2002, she had tried to create a law on domestic violence, which would have threatened ten years imprisonment for those who commit an acid attack.

“Separately, it is said that finally the deputy staff officer of the National Military Police, Ms. Chea Ratha, has been removed from her position; this shows the beginning of an inquest into the case of the acid attack on Ms. Ya Soknim.

“If this information is correct, we hope that the person who is behind the attack and the actual perpetrators will not be able to escape from the net of the law. However, we would like that the law will put serious penalties on those criminals, because, as Ms. Mu Sochua has already said, ‘An acid attack is more serious than stabbing a person with a knife, since it leaves scars on the body, it hurts the feeling, and it creates mental problems for the victims.”

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #156, 17.5.2008

Mother-in-law from hell

May 17 2008

Phnom Penh - A Cambodian mother-in-law who forced her son's wife to live with and even give birth while housed in the family's pig pen has avoided prosecution because the victim refused to press charges, police said on Friday.

Deputy military police chief of north-western Banteay Meanchey province, Born Arun, said police stumbled on the abuse allegedly endured by Ieng Chan Thorn, 23, when they intervened to stop her husband beating her at a local guesthouse after she ran away.

"She said her husband frequently beat her with his mother's blessing and she made Thorn live with the pigs - she even had their three-month-old son with the pigs," he said.

"She said her mother-in-law didn't like her character because she used to be a singer."

However, he said police were powerless to help further after Thorn refused to press charges saying that she "could not live without her husband" and he was released with a warning.

Arun said Thorn believed her marriage was "kampia" - a Cambodian Buddhist term meaning a burden earned through the sins of her previous incarnation which must be suffered in her current life.

"It's the worst case I can remember, but under the law, we can't help her if she doesn't help herself," he said.

Divorce remains largely taboo in Cambodia's conservative society and women who discard their partners, whatever their reasons, are still often looked down on as social failures of bad character.

- Sapa-dpa

Cambodia arrests 5th Khmer Rouge suspect in kidnap murder of British de-mining expert

The Associated Press
Published: May 17, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: A fifth suspect has been arrested in connection with the kidnapping and killing of a British mine clearance specialist and his Cambodian colleague by former Khmer Rouge fighters more than a decade ago, a judge said Saturday.

Puth Lim, a 52-year-old ex-Khmer Rouge soldier, was detained Friday on charges of premeditated murder and illegal confinement, said Ke Sakhan, a Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge.

He said Puth Lim is accused of involvement in the 1996 abduction and death of Christopher Howes and his interpreter Huon Huot.

Puth Lim was allegedly the driver of Khem Ngun, a former Khmer Rouge commander who has also been detained and who witnesses allege gave the order to kill the two abducted men.

The Khmer Rouge seized Howes, of Bristol, England, and a group of Cambodian co-workers in March 1996 while the team was clearing mines in an isolated area about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Angkor Wat, the country's most popular tourist destination.

Howes, 37 at the time, managed to talk the abductors into freeing his other colleagues while he and the interpreter stayed behind as hostages for ransom.

Nothing more was heard of the two men for two years until a team of detectives from Scotland Yard said they had firm evidence Howes and Huon Huot had been taken to the Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng and killed soon after their abduction.

The judge said police arrested Puth Lim at his home in Kampot province, 80 miles (130 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Phnom Penh.

Khem Ngun defected to the government in 1998 and was awarded the rank of major general in the Cambodian army. The Cambodian government did not arrest him at the time for fear of losing the trust of other Khmer Rouge guerrillas who were defecting.

The charges against Puth Lim and the other suspects carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.