F UNCINPEC'S military leadership is in disarray, with its strongest general, Nhek
Bun Chhay, on the run, reportedly possibly killed, and several other key chiefs believed
At Post press time, diplomats and CPP officials said they had received reports that
Bun Chhay had been captured and killed. The news could not be independently confirmed.
Second PM Hun Sen, meanwhile, confirmed in a July 10 press conference that another
Funcinpec General, Chao Samboth, had been killed.
Hun Sen said he did not learn of the murder until hours later, and had instructed
the Ministry of Interior to find the killers. Samboth should also not have been tortured
before he was killed, Hun Sen added.
Earlier, Funcincpec Secretary of State for Interior Ho Sok was executed last Monday
after being captured in downtown Phnom Penh.
"He has been arrested by government troops and he died," CPP police general
Khieu Sopheak said. "He was shot down by the people that are angry with him."
Sources said Ho Sok was executed at the Ministry of Interior, after he left the house
of the Singapore Ambassador, where he had sought sanctuary.
Ho Sok, whose house came under attack during CPP's offensive against Fun-cinpec last
weekend, is believed to have been sheltering at Prince Norodom Ranariddh's residence
when it fell to CPP forces Sunday night. He and several other Funcinpec officials
escaped by knocking a hole through the wall of the nearby Singapore Ambassador's
house. According to party sources, Ho Sok stayed there the night. He left on Monday,
in circumstances which are unclear.
Singapore has denied reports that its embassy telephoned CPP officials to inquire
whether an arrest warrant for Ho Sok had been issued, tipping them off to his whereabouts,
or that he had formally requested asylum.
"No-one asked for asylum at the Singapore Embassy in Phnom Penh and the Singapore
Embassy did not check on the court warrant to arrest anybody," a statement by
Singapore's foreign ministry said.
An embassy spokesman, asked whether Funcinpec officials including Ho Sok had been
at the ambassador's house, replied: "If there was any entry at the ambassador's
residence, it was made without our approval or knowledge." He denied that Ho
Sok had requested asylum from Singapore.
Whatever the circumstances, Ho Sok is believed to have been captured after a brief
chase soon after leaving the residence. He was taken to the Ministry of Interior
Human rights lobby group Amnesty International, in a July 10 statement, said that
Ho Sok and Chao Samboth's murders were "compelling evidence of a targeted campaign
to eliminate political opponents".
"This gives the lie to the message from Phnom Penh authorities that Royalist
supporters are not in danger," Amnesty International said.
One CPP source, while expressing regret for Ho Sok's death, said: "I know that
if Funcinpec had won, they would do the same [to CPP chiefs]."
Nhek Bun Chhay and Ho Sok have long been considered by CPP to be the leaders of a
small group of Funcinpec hardliners accused of illegally moving troops and weapons.
Bun Chhay's whereabouts since he abandoned his Tang Krasang base near Pochentong
airport last Sunday have been the subject of considerable speculation. Reportedly
wounded, he is said to have escaped with an unknown number of troops. CPP officials
claim that they include Khmer Rouge forces and that Bun Chhay had intended to go
to the KR base of Anlong Veng.
A diplomatic source said witnesses had identified wanted KR general Nuon Paet - blamed
for the deaths of three foreign hostages in Kampot province in 1994 - as having been
with Bun Chhay at Tang Krasang.
According to varying later reports, Bun Chhay was said to have been caught and killed
near Oudong, north of Phnom Penh, or in Pursat province.
If reports of his death, and that of Chao Samboth, are true, the next main target
of CPP is Ranariddh's chief security advisor, Serey Kosal.
Following the end of the Phnom Penh fighting, CPP issued arrest warrants for Ho Sok,
Nhek Bun Chhay, Chao Samboth and Serey Kosal, the former Battambang deputy governor
withdrawn after Funcinpec-CPP fighting in the province in February. Kosal has fled
to Thailand, according to unconfirmed reports.