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
"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."