ATTEMPTED murder charges will be brought against armed men who shot Leng Samang,
an editor of a local newspaper last week, according to Mak Chito, chief of Municipal
"The assailants will face murder charges...they shot him with the intention
to kill him," Chito said.
Details of the identities of the seven attackers were not available, but Chito said
they belonged to a police protection unit of the Ministry of Interior. He said police
were continuing the search to arrest the assailants believed to be in hiding.
Leng Samang, 26, editor of Kumnit Kaun Khmer (Thoughts of Khmer Children), was beaten
and shot by the men dressed in bodyguard and police uniforms at his home on Jan 2.
His relatives said Samang who had returned from the birthday party of First Premier
Prince Norodom Ranariddh that night was surrounded by the men who were drunk and
armed with AK-47 rifles.
Along the way to his house located about 200 meters from his mother's where he had
just parked his car, relatives said the assailants beat up Samang with their rifle
They fired two shots wounding him in his right arm and lower abdomen before breaking
the door of his house to tell his wife to take him to a hospital, according to relatives
and the police.
The motive of the attack is not yet clear, but Chito said Samang must have been mistaken
by the assailants for another man who lives nearby and with whom they used to quarrel.
Sin Yoeun, Samang's neighbor whose water container the assailants had urinated on,
must have been the target for the attack, said Chito.
Samang's relatives, however, dispute the police's version of the motive for the attack,
saying it was politically motivated.
Cheng Sokna, publisher of Kumnit Kaun Khmer which supports the Funcinpec party, said
the attack was linked to his newspaper's critical position against the CPP.
"This is politically motivated [incident] because my newspaper goes against
one side of the government which is the CPP," Sokna said.
He said Samang joined his newspaper after he returned from a frontline near Pailin
After surgery on his wound, Samang's health is reported to be in stable condition.
He is the second journalist to survive a shooting.
Ek Mongkul, a popular announcer of Funcinpec radio FM90, was shot in broad daylight,
but survived after a long period of being hospitalized.
Since 1994, four journalists have been killed - one of them in mysterious circumstances
- but none of their perpetrators have ever been found by the authorities and convicted.
Pin Samkhon, co-president of the Khmer Journalists Association, called the assassination
attempt politically motivated and criticized the government for being "incapable
of protecting journalists and the general population" from criminal acts.
The attack on Samang also drew strong condemnations from King Norodom Sihanouk and
"Such an act which followed many previous crimes in our capital causes severe
deterioration of Cambodia's liberal democracy, prestige and honor on the international
arena," the King said in a Jan 4 letter.
In a statement released by his cabinet on Jan 3, Prince Ranariddh described the attack
as having a serious impact on "freedom of press, freedom to express one's opinion
and liberal democracy I always uphold."