Three years after Cambodian cultural icon Piseth Pelika was murdered, the crime remains
unsolved. The 34-year-old singer, traditional dancer and actress was gunned down
in broad daylight near O'Russey market on July 6 1999. She died during surgery at
Calmette Hospital seven days later.
Meuk Dara, deputy chief of the crime department at the Ministry of Interior, was
unable to say if he was investigating further leads but said the case would remain
open for ten years.
Pelika's murder drew a spontaneous outpouring of grief from Cambodians when more
than 10,000 mourners attended her funeral ceremony in Phnom Penh.
In October 1999 French magazine L'Express published extracts that were purported
to be from the entertainer's personal diary. The Post republished the extracts in
In the extracts, which were authenticated by handwriting and fingerprint experts,
Pelika wrote of an affair with Prime Minister Hun Sen beginning in August 1998. The
diary details a passionate affair in which "we loved each other like husband
It states that the affair continued until early 1999 when Hun Sen ended the relationship,
apparently at the insistence of his wife Bun Rany. According to the diary Pelika's
powerful lover lavished gifts on her including a house, a car and cash.
An entry dated May 10, 1999 recorded Pelika's fears the affair had placed her life
in danger. The entry stated that two bodyguards of police director general Hok Lundy
escorted Pelika to a quiet restaurant in Kien Svay where she was warned to "escape
to another place for a period of time".
The reason, according to the diary, was that Bun Rany was "very angry"
and intended to take Pelika's life.
"I do not know whether they will let me live or die, because the earth is under
their control," Pelika wrote less than two months before her death.