A villager in Banteay Meanchey province was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of plotting a bomb attack on Prime Minister Hun Sen after he was caught in possession of an old anti-personnel mine that his wife unearthed in the area.
The arrest came ahead of the premier’s appearance at a groundbreaking ceremony for National Road 59 in Poipet commune yesterday.
Banteay Meanchey police arrested Kim Sath, 42, two hours after he and others discovered a Russian made PMN2 anti-personnel mine, identified by the Cambodian Mine Action Centre today.
The suspect’s wife Chan Thorn said she and her son discovered the mine on Sunday evening. “We called my husband and the villagers to help, at which point my husband placed it near a tree and said we would call the police the next day,” she said.
Police accused him of planting a bomb near today’s groundbreaking ceremony, saying they would release him after the ceremony had finished.
However, Chan Thorn said her husband has been detained at the provincial police station pending a court hearing.
Chan Kosal, Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy police chief, said today they arrested and detained the man for finding the “real thing”.
Rath Pottana, a CMAC officer based in Banteay Meanchey province, confirmed today CMAC received a mine from police officials.
“Our professional officers found the mine is in good condition and that it will explode if someone steps on its hook,” he said.
Chan Thorn said she has filed a request with rights groups Adhoc and Lichado to intervene on her husband’s behalf.
She said villagers will gather at the provincial police station and court if they do not release Kim Sath.
During today’s groundbreaking ceremony, Hun Sen took the opportunity to appeal to his wayward nephew Hun Chea.
In an address to a large crowd in Poipet commune, he asked his nephew to change his ways, airing some of his personal habits.
“Hun Chea comes home very late at night, and often sleeps in his car in front of his house,” he said.
Hun Sen made his first public appeal to his nephew in December, when he accused him of cheating on his wife and involvement with drugs.
Banteay Meanchey provincial court officials could not be reached today.