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Accident feared deliberate

Accident feared deliberate

The Alliance for Freedom of Expression in Cambodia (AFEC) issued a statement on December

28 urging the government to investigate a "suspicious" road accident that

left a Radio Free Asia journalist in a coma for ten days and his eight-year-old daughter

crtically ill.

"There are reasons to believe this was a premeditated hit and run," said

Ou Virak, general secretary for the AFEC.

According to AFEC information, on December 14 about 4:45pm, Sok Serei and his daughter

were driving down Street 19 in Phnom Penh on a motorcycle - a route they took every

day at the same time. That day, the front door of a passing Toyota pick-up truck

opened and knocked the pair to the ground.

Witnesses described the door opening in a "sudden strong thrust" into the

motorcycle, and said the two men in the truck demonstrated no concern for the welfare

of the injured pair but fled the scene quickly.

The pick-up was bearing Koh Kong licence plates. The number was noted by witnesses

and passed to police. Although police have indicated they know the identity of the

vehicle's owner, no formal investigation is under way, AFEC said.

"Koh Kong province [borders] Thailand in the southwest of Cambodia far away

from Phnom Penh," the statement said. "The road conditions are extremely

poor at this time. The probability of [an] accident happening that involved a vehicle

from Koh Kong province in Phnom Penh injuring one of the few brave and independent

influential radio reporters is almost zero."

AFEC is calling for a through investigation, and say the incident could have been

staged by people seeking to punish Serei, whom they describe as "a maverick

reporter who would not yield to pressures or threats."

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