I NTERIOR Minister You Hockry says "there is no doubt at all" that army colonel
Sat Soeun murdered journalist Chan Dara at Kompong Cham on Dec 8 last
Soeun was acquitted of Dara's murder for lack of evidence on May
Hockry's fellow investigator, National Police Deputy Commander Nuon
Soeur, told the Post that the Kompong Cham court was bribed.
revelations, following Soeun's release, are likely only to prompt more questions
as to who did kill Dara, and why; and if it was Sat Soeun, why he was not
Hockry said he was not allowed to continue his 48-hour
investigation into the case before handing his findings onto the investigating
judge at Kompong Cham.
"The Kompong Cham court was decided by some kind
of fear... there was something, but I would prefer not to talk about it," Hockry
told the Post on May 24.
The possible motive behind Dara's killing was
not fully discussed during the day-long trial. However many - including human
rights groups and Dara's widow - believe Dara was blamed for providing gossip
that was used in a series of newspaper articles implicating provincial governor
Hun Neng and other leaders in illegal logging and rubber exports. Hun Neng is
co-Prime Minister Hun Sen's brother.
Hun Neng's administration has been
rocked twice recently, with allegations of abuses in a long-standing land
dispute, and now a public airing of claims about high-level involvement in
rubber and timber smuggling.
Nuon Soeur, who arrested Soeun and helped
in Hockry's initial investigation, said Soeun was part of a "clan" headed by
Neng's son, Hun Chanto.
Soeur said "he did not want to comment" on the
protection Soeun might have been given as part of Chanto's clan. "Ask the people
of Kompong Cham, they would know clearer than me," he said.
that Hun Neng helped and encouraged in the arrest of Soeun.
had killed "many people" in the past and there was sufficient evidence that he
was guilty of Dara's murder, Soeur said. "Its not my opinion... it is
Soeur said that Soeun - a man he says was made rich in the illegal
trade of timber from the province to Vietnam - paid off court officials,
including the judge, to be acquitted.
"I will stop (Soeun), I will take
the strongest measures," Soeur said, adding that Soeun should be tried in the
Phnom Penh court.
Hockry said "Chan Dara knew something about Sat Soeun
and what he had done."
When asked whether the newspaper articles might
have been a factor, Hockry said: "I would not think so till I got more evidence.
But Dara knew something about Soeun. Sat Soeun does the bad things, he
guarantees transport of (illegal) logging and rubber, that's his job
Hockry said should Dara's family appeal the decision - and the
Post is aware that an appeal has already been filed - there would not be a new
investigation. Rather, a study would be made on the points of law that the court
allegedly violated, he said.
Hockry said he took Sat Soeun to the murder
scene and questioned him. He said he was convinced that Soeun's alibi and
explanation were wrong, and that it was definitely Soeun who shot Dara twice in
Hockry showed his investigation to both the judge and
prosecutor, but they said they could not arrest Soeun without a witness who
could confirm that both men left the restaurant they were drinking at together.
Hockry said he found such a witness, a girl who waitressed at the restaurant.
However, the girl did not give personal evidence at the trial.
got to respect the decision of the court," Hockry said, "but in this case there
is something I have some doubt. There is no doubt that (Soeun) is the one who
committed (the murder)."