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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Little spared in investigation into editor's shooting

Little spared in investigation into editor's shooting

Little spared in investigation into editor's shooting

editor.gif
editor.gif

CRITICAL EDITOR IN STABLE CONDITION

Pro-Hun Sen editor Thong Uy Pang says itís safer to

be an opposition journalist.

IN all the confusion surrounding the recent attack on Koh Santepheap (Island of Peace)

editor Thong Uy Pang one thing is clear: the incident appears to have attracted more

high-level attention than many before it.

The difference between investigations into Uy Pang's non-fatal shooting and other

attacks was like "night and day", said a foreign human rights worker. "More

so than any killing. More so than the grenade attack in March of 1997. More so than

the extra-judicial killings after the coup.

"There were at least 25 officers at the scene of the crime within minutes of

the shooting. They were well-equipped. Not standard crime police. This was the A-team,

not the B-team. The real investigators."

At Post press time, no one had been arrested in connection with the June 8 attack

at Wat Tuek Thla, in which Uy Pang was shot in both shoulders and one of his bodyguards

also wounded.

Khoun Saphan, chief of criminal investigation of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police,

said he was following several leads, but he refused to elaborate.

"We are hopeful the criminal will be arrested," he said, adding his officers

would continue combing hospitals and private clinics looking for the attacker, who

was allegedly shot and wounded by one of Uy Pang's bodyguards before escaping by

motorcycle with an accomplice.

Gen Net Savoeun, head of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police, has taken a personal interest

in the case. State-owned national television, TVK, has quoted him saying the shooting

was politically-motivated.

And the ministries of interior and information have issued strong statements announcing

the attack was intended to intimidate journalists and poison the pre-election atmosphere.

The controversial editor noted he has allies in high places. Senior government figures

visited him in his highly-guarded hospital room, and after surgery to repair his

wounds he received a telephone call from Second Prime Minister Hun Sen who was concerned

about his recovery.

But Uy Pang also has enemies - by his own admission, many of them.

His own theory is that his attacker is "a political enemy of Hun Sen... If I

was not pro-Hun Sen, but pro-Sam Rainsy or pro-Ranariddh, I would not have problems,"

he claimed, insisting he has always faced more threats than his media colleagues

who support the opposition.

Koh Santepheap, which claims a daily circulation of 25,000, is widely considered

to be a pro-CPP paper, supportive of the Second Prime Minister.

However, the controversial editor is also known for his attacks on CPP supporters

and senior business people. That means those who are trying to assign a motive for

the shooting have many different directions to explore.

"It would be foolish for anyone to speculate. He has criticized everyone, including

Hun Sen, [CPP President] Chea Sim and [National Police Chief] Hok Lundy," said

one western observer.

But several observers - both foreign and Cambodian - speculate the editor may have

been a target of internal CPP animosity, after writing articles critical of figures

within the party.

"If I see anyone doing something wrong, I write about their mistakes,"

said Uy Pang, adding he rarely leaves his home because of death threats.

In October 1997, two grenades were thrown at Uy Pang's home. No one was injured and

no one was arrested.

In December 1994, Koh Santepheap reporter Sao Chandara, 27, was murdered in Kampong

Cham, while gathering information about illegal logging. RCAF Lt Col Sath Soeun was

charged with the crime, but acquitted in court and released.

Uy Pang is offering US$10,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to the

arrest of his attacker. The national police have offered a 1 million riel ($250)

reward.

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