Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Police, CPP brass on top cop shortlist

Police, CPP brass on top cop shortlist

Police, CPP brass on top cop shortlist

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PM to announce Hok Lundy's replacement as police chief

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Investigators from Cambodia's Civil Aviation Secretariat inspect the wreckage of the helicopter that was carrying National Police Chief Hok Lundy when it crashed Sunday night.

OFFICIALS say they are unsure who will take the helm at the Kingdom's national police authority following Sunday's death of Police Chief Hok Lundy in a helicopter crash.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Hok Lundy's replacement would be chosen from among Cambodia's eight deputy police commissioners and the members of the CPP standing committee as a matter of urgency.

"The CPP regrets the loss of Hok Lundy, but at the same time we have to consider a successor as soon as possible to ensure stability," he said, adding that Prime Minister Hun Sen would make the final decision on the appointment. "The body needs a new head."

Hok Lundy was killed Sunday night when his helicopter crashed in Svay Rieng province's Rumduol district, along with General Sok Saem and the craft's two pilots.

Deputy Commissioner Neth Savoeun, who is married to Hun Sen's niece, is expected to be first in line for the post and will serve as acting commissioner until a permanent appointment is made.

During his 14 years as National Police commissioner, Hok Lundy, whose daughter is married to Hun Sen's son Hun Manith, has been a controversial figure. International rights organisations have repeatedly accused him of involvement in drug trafficking and politically-motivated killings, allegedly committed during the factional fighting of July 1997.

In February 2006, the US State Department went so far as to deny Hok Lundy a visa to the United States on the basis of allegations he was

involved in human trafficking.

But Human Rights Watch criticised the Federal Bureau of Investigation when it welcomed Hok Lundy to the US for counterterrorism talks in April last year, branding the police head "the absolute worst that Cambodia has to offer" and adding that "hardly anyone in Cambodia ... has shown more contempt for the rule of law".

Kek Galabru, president of the Cambodian rights group Licadho, said it was too early to say whether respect for human rights in the police force would improve under a new national commissioner.

"It depends on the person who will replace him, but it's difficult to anticipate. We'll have to wait and see," she said.

But Ny Chakrya, head of the monitoring section at Adhoc, said the appointment would have little impact.

"It does not depend on the personality of the man in charge, it depends on the system," he said Monday. "A new commander will make no difference. When the police system supports and respects human rights, then people will have faith in the police."