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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Assemblyman Holds U.N. Team at Gunpoint

Assemblyman Holds U.N. Team at Gunpoint

Assemblyman Holds U.N. Team at Gunpoint

A newly elected member of the Constituent Assembly ordered his guards to hold six

UNTAC officials and their interpreter at gun point for seven hours on Sept. 2 after

they raided his house in search of a stolen UNTAC land cruiser.

Cheng Bun, a former vice minister for finance in the State of Cambodia administration

charged that the police officers had illegally entered his compound and demanded

an apology and written acknowledgment that they had acted without court approval.

The UNTAC team which included two Civilian Police officers, a Bangladeshi and Ghanaian

military police officer, an Indonesian soldier and a Brazilian mechanic, entered

the house at six a.m. after receiving a tip off Bun was in possession of a stolen

land cruiser.

However the UNTAC team, which was let into the compound by one of Bun's cousin found

only a blue land cruiser which was legally registered to the assemblymen. The team

apologized for the intrusion but when they tried to leave Bun ordered his heavily

armed guards to detain them.

"Your apology won't repair my reputation," Bun said.

The UNTAC team claimed they were acting within the powers granted them by the Paris

Peace Accords and did not need court permission to carry out their search.

Mr. Bashar, an UNTAC police officer who arrived shortly after the lock-in suggested

to Bun that he release the team and make a complaint to UNTAC. But Bun was adamant

his rights had been violated.

"UNTAC is supposed to set an example to the Cambodian people. They are the ones

who brought democracy to this country so they should suspect human rights,"

he told reporters among the large crowd which gathered outside the house on Keo Mony

Boulevard during the course of the drama.

Inside the compound, the stand-off was a relatively calm affair. The UNTAC officers

were served with soft drinks and food although the guards threatened to shoot them

if they tried to leave. Tension mounted, however, when a patrol of Indonesian soldiers

scaled the roof of a surrounding house and trained their guns on the guards. The

Indonesians rescued their detained countryman but left the other UNTAC members behind.

One of the Filipino Civilian Policeofficers also tried to bust his way throughway

the gateway when it was briefly opened but was held back in a scufflle with Cambodian

police.

The standoff finally ended when the UNTAC team signed a statement admitting that

the they were "not carrying a warrant" and that "they apologized"

Bun said he was still not satisfied and vowed to take the case to court to require

UNTAC to admit they had entered his house illegally.

Eric Falt told AFP that the search team was not at fault and did not need a warrant

because they were granted entry before carrying out the search.

"Our people were within their rights," he todl the newsagency. " We

don't believe there was a fault committed but even if there was this is not the way

to handle it," he said.

More than 160 UNTAC vehicles have been stolen, the majority in a spate of thefts

over the last few months.

Four stolen cars have been recovered from the homes of Cambodian police and generals

in similar raids and UNTAC officials believe high-ranking government officials are

behind the organized racket.

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