After first saying a fire that razed the house of an opposition activist in Banteay Meanchey province Friday was caused by an electrical fault, police have resumed their investigation amid claims of arson, a provincial election committee official said.
Hy Kimseng, Banteay Meanchey provincial election committee chief, said he was assisting police in determining the cause of Friday morning’s fire, which burned down the house of Chuo Chen, 57.
“It’s very difficult to sum up exactly what happened, because no clues have been found,” he said.
Chen, a Cambodia National Rescue Party provincial secretary, had complained of receiving death threats before the fire.
The police reinvestigation was prompted by this claim and another that he found sausages and scraps of chicken at the scene, leading him to think his dogs and cats had been poisoned before the blaze.
“My family and I — including my five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter — are worried about our personal security and are hiding,” he said.
Chen, who announced yesterday that he had filed a complaint to the provincial court over the matter, said the first death threat had been delivered July 3, and the second eight days later.
“First, they warned me to stop working for the CNRP or they would kill my family,” he said. “The second time, they called and said, ‘Mr Chen, if you don’t stop working for the CNRP, you, your children and your wife will rest in peace’.”
His comments followed police claims that the fire was not deliberately lit.
Kheng Som, Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief, declined to comment yesterday, but has told local media that an electrical fault caused the fire.
Ke Samphors, provincial CNRP vice president, said he was concerned that police “just want to close the case as soon as possible”.
Som Chankear, a provincial coordinator for human rights group Adhoc, called for a thorough investigation.
“Threats to kill have been made.… this was not an electrical fault,” he said.
Provincial CPP president Oung Oeun declined to comment on the allegations.