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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hok Lundy loyalist tipped to become next police chief

Hok Lundy loyalist tipped to become next police chief

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Neth Savoeun is only name on the shortlist, police brass say, but the official word has yet to come on his appointment

Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN

General Neth Savoeun grieves at Tuesday’s memorial service for Hok Lundy.

NATIONAL Police General Neth Savoeun is the most likely successor to top cop Hok Lundy, police officials said Wednesday, but said that no official appointment has been made.

"It is just a plan. It will not be official until a royal decree is released," said Teng Savong, deputy director of the National Police.

An assistant to Neth Savoeun who did not want to be named told the Post Wednesday that, while the appointment is widely expected, neither he nor Neth Savoeun had seen an order by King Norodom Sihamoni formalising the arrangement.

Hok Lundy was killed Sunday in a helicopter crash while flying to Svay Rieng province in bad weather. Mechanical failure, which officials say caused a fire, is the most likely cause of the mishap.

His death raised speculation of a power struggle within Cambodia's National Police, which Hok Lundy, a close ally and relative by marriage to Prime Minister Hun Sen, had commanded since 1994.

He was frequently the target of human rights groups, who accused him of a vast array of abuses, including human trafficking and murder. The New York-based Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that Neth Savoeun was unlikely to be any better.

"[He] should be under investigation by the police, not be the National Police chief. He will almost certainly continue to politicise the work of the police," said Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch.

"This is a very disturbing appointment."

Neth Savoeun, 52, who is married to Hun Sen's niece, joined the police force in the 1980s, rising to the post of Phnom Penh municipal police chief during the early 1990s and head of the Justice Department in the Ministry of Interior's Penal Crimes Division.

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