MYSTERY surrounds the reported massacre of twenty two people in a remote cave on
an island in Koh Kong province.
The Khmer language newspaper Chakraval wrote on April 24 that the bodies were discovered
on Koh Andeuk (Turtle Island) in late February.
The report, which included a photograph of the corpses, said all 22 had been bound
and blindfolded and had suffered stab and gunshot wounds.
The paper speculated that the bodies were those of pirates who had been herded together
and executed by authorities in a mass extra-judicial killing.
The paper also suggested that the bodies could be of people kidnapped and robbed
by pirates, who then killed them; or perhaps of Funcinpec cadres who were to become
commune and district chiefs.
However, a source quoted by Chakraval said the killings were not politically motivated.
The source said the bodies were all Khmer and the killings were probably linked to
However, sources within the Interior Ministry were not aware of any investigation
into the massacre.
The head of criminal police at the Ministry, Thong Lim, said he was waiting for instructions
to begin an inquiry but so far the only information he had came from the Khmer press.
The ministry's spokesman, Heng Hak, said the relevant authority was seeking permission
to begin investigations in Koh Kong but was unable to confirm when an inquiry would
"It's an internal affair, but I've asked the criminal section to clarify this
"I don't know, but I don't think there were 22 bodies," he said.
However, human rights groups have expressed concern that an inquiry has not been
mounted some two months after the alleged discovery of the bodies.
Thun Saray, president of the local human rights NGO, ADHOC, said the massacre had
been included as a special agenda item for consideration by the Human Rights Action
He said the Action Committee was likely to send a team of investigators to Koh Kong
who would return to Phnom Penh with their findings when it had finished.
"[But] we urge an investigation from the Interior Ministry," he said, "and
we will provide what information we can from our own inquiries."