Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chan Dara's killer walks, says Hockry

Chan Dara's killer walks, says Hockry

Chan Dara's killer walks, says Hockry

I NTERIOR Minister You Hockry says "there is no doubt at all" that army colonel

Sat Soeun murdered journalist Chan Dara at Kompong Cham on Dec 8 last

year.

Soeun was acquitted of Dara's murder for lack of evidence on May

20.

Hockry's fellow investigator, National Police Deputy Commander Nuon

Soeur, told the Post that the Kompong Cham court was bribed.

The

revelations, following Soeun's release, are likely only to prompt more questions

as to who did kill Dara, and why; and if it was Sat Soeun, why he was not

convicted.

Hockry said he was not allowed to continue his 48-hour

investigation into the case before handing his findings onto the investigating

judge at Kompong Cham.

"The Kompong Cham court was decided by some kind

of fear... there was something, but I would prefer not to talk about it," Hockry

told the Post on May 24.

The possible motive behind Dara's killing was

not fully discussed during the day-long trial. However many - including human

rights groups and Dara's widow - believe Dara was blamed for providing gossip

that was used in a series of newspaper articles implicating provincial governor

Hun Neng and other leaders in illegal logging and rubber exports. Hun Neng is

co-Prime Minister Hun Sen's brother.

Hun Neng's administration has been

rocked twice recently, with allegations of abuses in a long-standing land

dispute, and now a public airing of claims about high-level involvement in

rubber and timber smuggling.

Nuon Soeur, who arrested Soeun and helped

in Hockry's initial investigation, said Soeun was part of a "clan" headed by

Neng's son, Hun Chanto.

Soeur said "he did not want to comment" on the

protection Soeun might have been given as part of Chanto's clan. "Ask the people

of Kompong Cham, they would know clearer than me," he said.

Soeur said

that Hun Neng helped and encouraged in the arrest of Soeun.

Soeun, 38,

had killed "many people" in the past and there was sufficient evidence that he

was guilty of Dara's murder, Soeur said. "Its not my opinion... it is

true."

Soeur said that Soeun - a man he says was made rich in the illegal

trade of timber from the province to Vietnam - paid off court officials,

including the judge, to be acquitted.

"I will stop (Soeun), I will take

the strongest measures," Soeur said, adding that Soeun should be tried in the

Phnom Penh court.

Hockry said "Chan Dara knew something about Sat Soeun

and what he had done."

When asked whether the newspaper articles might

have been a factor, Hockry said: "I would not think so till I got more evidence.

But Dara knew something about Soeun. Sat Soeun does the bad things, he

guarantees transport of (illegal) logging and rubber, that's his job

there."

Hockry said should Dara's family appeal the decision - and the

Post is aware that an appeal has already been filed - there would not be a new

investigation. Rather, a study would be made on the points of law that the court

allegedly violated, he said.

Hockry said he took Sat Soeun to the murder

scene and questioned him. He said he was convinced that Soeun's alibi and

explanation were wrong, and that it was definitely Soeun who shot Dara twice in

the back.

Hockry showed his investigation to both the judge and

prosecutor, but they said they could not arrest Soeun without a witness who

could confirm that both men left the restaurant they were drinking at together.

Hockry said he found such a witness, a girl who waitressed at the restaurant.

However, the girl did not give personal evidence at the trial.

"I have

got to respect the decision of the court," Hockry said, "but in this case there

is something I have some doubt. There is no doubt that (Soeun) is the one who

committed (the murder)."

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