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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bulgarian envoy calls for answers to shooting

Bulgarian envoy calls for answers to shooting

B ULGARIAN Chargé d'Affaires Stoyan Davidov is anxiously awaiting a Ministry of

Interior report on the shooting of a Bulgarian national that will provide

"consistent" answers, identify the gunmen, apologize for the mistake and offer

compensation.

Such a report would strengthen diplomatic ties betwen the

two countries that have - for economic reasons - been waning.

Davidov and

his Sofia chiefs are unlikely to easily accept an explanation that may put full

blame on the four Westerners - two Bulgarians, a Brit and an Australian - who

were wounded during two separate Aug 27 shootings by Second Prime Minister Hun

Sen's troops near the PM's residence.

"Our people want concrete,

consistent answers that it was a mistake and that somebody responsible must pay

for the mistake," Davidov said on Sept 5.

Compensation for the medical

costs of Dimitir (Mitko) Ivanov, 18, and Braiko Zahov, 17, must be paid because

neither family could afford to foot the bills, he said.

"If [such a

report is not forthcoming] Bulgaria must take some consultations that the

embassy cannot do its work or [that] Cambodia doesn't have an interest in

continuing normal relationships with Bulgaria," he said.

Ambassadors from

Bulgaria, Australia and Great Britain are awaiting the ministry's report, but

diplomatic protocol dictates that Foreign Minister Ung Huot is their only point

of contact.

"We can wait and listen to diplomacy and words of apology...

it [the shooting] is not good and we understand that," Davidov said.

"But

we want to know [answers] soon, maybe in two or three days," he said, which

would be around the date of Post publication. "To be economical with the truth

would be a second mistake, after the original mistake of the military

group."

Police investigators spoken to by the Post, however, firmly put

the responsibility for the "accident" onto the victims. The Westerners were

drunk, and avoided "checkpoints" and warning shots, they said.

First

Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh was quoted as saying that people must

realize they cannot ride around Hun Sen's house - located on one corner of the

busy Independence Monument roundabout - late at night.

Previous reports

had Hun Sen indicating the blame lay with unnamed "terrorists"; while another

quoted Hun Sen's guards being edgy over reports that Ranariddh's troops were on

surprise maneuvers.

British Embassy spokesman Les Hartley said that his

embassy had also asked for money and a cell phone allegedly stolen from James

immediately after the shooting to be returned. Ivanov was also robbed while

lying wounded.

"There is no point going heavy handed into this till we

have seen the report," Hartley said.

Hartley agreed that there were

differences between the verbal reports from the victims - "and of course we

believe what the victims are telling us" - and the police.

"What we don't

want is a snow job, saying it was only the Westerners fault and they were

drunk," he said.

Australian Ambassador Tony Kevin said Australian Iain

Howartson's letter of complaint had been forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign

Affairs. "We have asked for comment and that is about all I can say for

now".

Davidov spoke of "young Bulgarian blood" having been "invested"

during his country's UNTAC contribution - UN records showed five Bulgarians died

of the 800 or so who served - "and now this... my people are saying maybe they

(Cambodians) don't like Bulgarians".

"Bulgarian people knew of this

history, and were awaiting news of this new shooting," he said. "I'm obliged...

I must answer something to my ministry."

The Cambodian government

representative in Sofia had been invited for questioning "but there is no

answers there, no answers here," he said.

"Before, our countries had a

good relationship. But now it has changed, there is stagnation. Bulgaria's

economy, changing to a free market one like Cambodia, is not good.

"It is

easy to organize some activity (if there is) investment, but (Bulgaria) doesn't

have that possibility," Davidov said.

He said the military involved in

the shooting must be identified and "say in an open voice, it is our

mistake".

Compensation for medical costs was needed "because neither

family has much money... Braiko's father just died and his mother gets $100 a

month," he said.

Davidov said Ivanov was not drunk. "It was a

catastrophe, and I believe it was never the fault of these guys," he said of the

wounded men.

Cambodia had to find a solution otherwise "this kind of

situation could continue," he said.

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