Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Traffic death linked to reports of MP buy-offs

Traffic death linked to reports of MP buy-offs

Traffic death linked to reports of MP buy-offs

IN an incident that caught the attention of a US Congressman, a Sam Rainsy

Party (SRP) MP-elect said he was subjected to threats and attempted bribery

by a man who wanted him to join the Cambodian People's Party.

Soon after he refused, his nephew was killed in a traffic accident.

At an Aug 14 press conference on the afternoon of his nephew's death, SRP

candidate Monh Siyonn told of being visited and telephoned by "Ath",

a man who told him that if Siyonn joined "Samdech Number Two"

he would receive benefits such as up to $200,000, a car, a telephone - "of

your choice, 011 or 012" - and a good job.

Siyonn refused, and took the story to the SRP on Aug 13. The following day

Siyonn's nephew Pang Sokhunn - an SRP activist - was killed in a traffic

accident as he left SRP headquarters.

"This morning looked too much like a coincidence," Siyonn said.

"After I consistently and firmly rejected their proposals, then there

is an accident of one of my relatives."

Even before the accident, Siyonn's story had been noted by a US Congress

member. In an Aug 13 letter, Dana Rohrabacher expressed concern about reports

of CPP threats or bribes to opposition MPs-elect and asked US Assistant

Secretary of State Stanley Roth to ask the US Embassy in Phnom Penh to investigate

Siyonn's story.

Siyonn told the Post he had met with an embassy official on Aug 17 and recounted

the tale.

Diplomats and observers have expressed the post-election concern that since

the CPP failed to win two-thirds of the Assembly seats - two- thirds being

the margin required to form a government - the CPP may try to gain support

through bribing or threatening opposition MPs to defect.

Siyonn said: "Ath told me that all the SRP MPs have already been bought,'You

are the only one that remains.' I asked him, 'Did Sam Rainsy and [his wife

and MP-elect] Tioulong Saumura already defect?'"

The night before the accident, Siyonn said he had met with UN monitors and

told them his story and his concerns.

"I told [them] that whenever one party, specifically the party of Hun

Sen, wants to harm someone they would not do it in the open, usually they

would disguise their wrongdoing like saying it was a robbery or a traffic

accident," Siyonn said.

The accident happened about 9am on the 14th, on Sothearos Ave. Sokhunn and

his friend Prom Omnat were on a motorcycle overtaking a long truck. While

they were overtaking, they collided with an oncoming vehicle. Sokhunn fell

under the back wheel of the large truck, while the oncoming vehicle sped

off.

Omnat, who suffered a broken leg, said the oncoming vehicle was a white

car which increased speed in order to hit them. "When we started to

overtake, I saw the white car was far away. When we were in the middle of

passing the truck, the car sped up and hit us... it was intentional."

But witnesses said the oncoming vehicle was a pickup, was not going fast,

and that the collision did not appear intentional. "Both trucks drove

very slowly. It was totally an accident," said one eyewitness.

The municipal traffic police also concluded Sokhunn's death was an accident

- although they said the oncoming vehicle was a white car. The policeman

in charge of the investigation, who asked not to be named, said it was "hopeless"

to find the car's driver, although the truck driver was under arrest.

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