Sunday, January 04, 2009

Cambodian Court Frees Alleged Killers of Chea Vichea

Update on an earlier post Who Killed Chea Vichea?: The two men sentenced to 20 years in prison for his murder have been released on 31 Dec:

Many Cambodians, as well as international observers, were initially pleased as well as puzzled at the unusual speed with which suspects were arrested and charged in the murder.

But the case against Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun appeared to unravel as a witness to the murder said the gunman and getaway driver she saw didn’t resemble either of the two men. Others said they saw Born Samnang at the home of his girlfriend, Vieng Thi Hong, in Neak Loeung, Prey Veng province, 40 kms from Phnom Penh, when the murder occurred.

“Almost all the people in the whole village were witnesses,” Sok Sam Oeurn, a lawyer and executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project who investigated the case, said in an interview.

“They said that on the day Chea Vichea was shot dead, Born Samnang was at Neak Loeung because it was Chinese [Lunar] New Year. The villagers there and Born Samnang’s girlfriend, who is Vietnamese, celebrated the New Year.

Former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov, who led the murder investigation before he was sentenced to 14 years in jail in July 2007 for corruption, also admitted to framing the two men on orders from National Police Chief General Hok Lundy, who was recently killed in a helicopter crash.

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