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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ...while US officials target Hun Sen

...while US officials target Hun Sen

...while US officials target Hun Sen

UNITED STATES government officials are making increasingly strong accusations regarding

the Second Prime Minister's role in drug trafficking and the March 30 grenade attack,

as well as in last month's military actions.

"Hun Sen, throughout his career, has resorted to violence ... he was a triggerman

for Pol Pot, then an imposed dictator, he threatened violence to get the second prime

minister post after he lost the elections, now the grenade attack and the coup. He's

not just a politician, he's a war criminal," said Al Santoli, an aide to Congressman

Dana Rohrabacher.

Unidentified Clinton administration officials have leaked the findings of a classified

FBI report on the grenade attack to United Press International. On Aug 21, UPI quoted

a US official who noted that "there are obviously a lot of strong indications

Hun Sen and his people ordered and participated in the attack."

The FBI concluded that it was Hun Sen's personal bodyguards who masterminded and

carried out the violence, UPI reported. On March 30, three or four grenades were

tossed into a political rally in Phnom Penh, killing more than a dozen and injuring

many more.

Prak Sokhon, an adviser to Hun Sen, was cautious in his reaction to the reports about

the FBI investigation into the grenade attack. "Let's wait first for an official

accusation. There are so many accusations without evidence that it's useless to comment."

Washington is additionally concerned about increasing reports of Hun Sen's links

to drug trafficking and his associations with tycoon Teng Boonma. UPI reported that

US government officials have "irrefutable" evidence of Hun Sen's links

with marijuana and heroin trade in Cambodia.

On August 14, the State Department announced that it would suspend Teng Boonma's

US visa. Spokesman James Rubin said that Boonma is a "prominent businessman

who we believe - there is reliable reporting - has been involved in drug trafficking.

And we take drug trafficking very, very seriously."

Rubin indicated that the US was particularly concerned about Boonma's alleged financial

backing of July's military actions and his close associations with Hun Sen.

Prak Sokhon dismissed the concerns. "Teng Boonma has many associations with

every senior official in Cambodia ... But I know that Hun Sen will not tolerate any

drug trafficker. If it is found that Teng Boonma is really involved with drug trafficking,

then Hun Sen would like the law to be applied against him."

Teng Boonma has repeatedly denied allegations that he is involved in trafficking.

The US House of Representatives has been active in denouncing Hun Sen, Teng Boonma

and the political situation in Cambodia. On July 28, the House unanimously passed

Resolution 195. The non-binding resolution describes the events of July 5-6 as "a

violent military coup d'etat"; notes that reports indicate "that forces

loyal to Hun Sen were involved" in the grenade attack; and cites Cambodian and

US reports that Hun Sen and his forces have received "financial and material

support from major international drug dealers," and that "alleged drug

baron" Teng Boonma "admitted to providing $1,000,000 to Hun Sen to fund

the ongoing coup."

On July 30, Dana Rohrabacher, the Congressman spearheading the Cambodia reaction,

sponsored a measure to halt all 1998 US funding to the Cambodian government.

The binding measure, which passed unanimously, also includes US funds that are channeled

through international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund or the

World Bank. On July 17, the House froze 1997 appropriations to Cambodia, and the

State Department halted aid disbursement July 10, excluding humanitarian aid channeled

through NGOs.

At a July 16 House hearing, Congressman Rohrabacher made a statement denouncing the

"ongoing reign of terror" by Hun Sen and demanding the de-classification

of a recent US Drug Enforcement Agency report on Cambodia and the FBI grenade attack

report.

During the hearing, Rohra-bacher declared, "The trouble with bad guys like Hun

Sen ... he doesn't care how many of his fellow countrymen die. He doesn't care if

the economy goes to hell. He doesn't care how many kids don't get any education.

He doesn't care because he has all the power. That's all he cares about."

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