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Sokha threat investigation in works

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Sar Kheng and Kem Sokha shake hands at the National Assembly earlier this year. Lieutenant Colonel Pheng Vannak was removed from his position after making death threats against the CNRP deputy leader, according to a proclamation signed by Sar Kheng. Heng Chivoan

Sokha threat investigation in works

Almost two years after a police official was accused of threatening to kill deputy opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Kem Sokha in a Facebook message, an investigation into the nearly cold case has been declared and the official removed from his post, according to a document obtained yesterday.

In December 2013, Interior Ministry official Pheng Vannak allegedly sent a Facebook message to Sokha containing a picture of a gun and bullets and threatening to shoot him, although Vannak claimed his account had been hacked.

While the CNRP called for intervention and Vannak said he was summonsed at the time, it was not until September 25 of this year that a proclamation was signed by Interior Minister Sar Kheng creating a seven-person police commission to investigate the case.

“This commission has the duty of thoroughly researching and investigating this case and other complaints of irregular activity made against Lieutenant Colonel Pheng Vannak, a national police officer at the Interior Ministry, and report the results of the investigation to the interior minister to inspect and make a decision according to procedures,” the proclamation read.

Vannak was also transferred to a lower position as the investigation takes place.

The CNRP had previously pointed out the difference between the lack of action against Vannak and the swift arrest last month of a Cambodian man who threatened to kill government border-researcher Sok Touch just a few days prior.

Chhay Sinarith, the vice chairman of the commission tasked with investigating Vannak and the director of the Interior Ministry’s Internal Security Department, confirmed yesterday that police were on Vannak’s case.

He said, however, that it was difficult for police to investigate because the incident took place so long ago and because the case’s plaintiff was not cooperative.

“We are investigating. We must find evidence. [We] do not say that [the threat on Facebook] belongs to him, because he’s said [his Facebook account] did not belong to him [at the time.] So it is complicated,” Sinarith said.

“But that doesn’t mean we won’t try.”

Pheng Vannak declined to comment when reached yesterday.

CNRP spokesman Yem Ponharith confirmed yesterday that the CNRP had previously requested intervention in the case, but declined to give further specifics, referring questions to lawyer Ket Khy, who said he was not attached to the case.

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