Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Terrorism: US State Dept congratulates Phnom Penh, Chhun Yasith’s trial planned for July

By Leang Delux
Cambodge Soir

Unofficial translation from French by Tola Ek

In its annual report on terrorism, the US State Department presents Cambodia as a serious ally in the fight against this scourge. Furthermore, Hok Lundy, on his return from the US, announced that the trial of Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF) chief would be held in July.

While the MPs adopted on Monday the law against money laundering and terrorism – an adoption demanded long ago by aid donor countries – Cambodia is the topic of a rather favorable evaluation presented in the latest annual report on terrorism by the US State Department. The document notes weaknesses in the Cambodian government capacity to investigate on potential terrorist activities – stemming “from the lack of training and resources” – as well as from the absence of a complete national law to fight terrorism. However, the report underscores that the political leaders of the Kingdom “demonstrated a strong commitment [in 2006] to take aggressive legal action against terrorists.”

According the State Department, “there were no indications that specific terrorist groups operated in Cambodia, but porous borders and endemic corruption could make the country vulnerable to a terrorist presence.” The authors of the report, while citing the numerous foreign cooperations offered to Phnom Penh in this field, stress in particular “Prime Minister Hun Sen's assurance to his Sri Lankan counterpart that the Tamil Tiger rebels would not receive arms smuggled from Cambodia, although the government acknowledged it was likely this has occurred in the past”.”

Another credit given to Cambodia is the destruction of 200,000 small arms over the last several years with EU assistance, and, the installation of computerized border control systems at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports and at the land border crossing of Poipet and Koh Kong, with the US assistance. The State Department concluded that “the Cambodian government also cooperated fully with U.S. requests to monitor terrorists and terrorist entities listed as supporters of terrorist financing.”

The publication of this report coincides with the return from the US of Hok Lundy, national police chief, who was invited by the FBI under the framework of bilateral cooperation in the fight against terrorism, drug and human trafficking. “We met the California FBI bureau chief who informed us that Chhun Yasith [a Cambodian-American who heads the Cambodian Freedom Fighters movement, and who is accused of attempting to topple the Cambodian government in 2000, he was arrested in California in 2005] would be brought to court in July. I asked him if he (Chhun Yasith) would be sentenced, and he replied that he (Chhun Yasith) would be sentenced to life in prison,” Hok Lundy reported in an exclusive interview to the CTN TV station on Sunday evening at the Pochentong airport. He indicated that the Cambodian police would be asked to assist the trial in order to bring other evidence against Chhun Yasith.

Hok Lundy confided also that the FBI thanked the Cambodian police for the help it provided in the arrest of Hambali, the mastermind of the regional terrorist Jeemah Islamiya group, in Thailand, as well as the arrest of a terrorist cell hidden in the Um Alqura school located near Phnom Penh. “Chritopher Hill [the Human Rights and anti-drug trafficking representative for the Asia Pacific region at the US State Department] suggested that our police reinforce the application of the law, and the collaboration with NGOs involved in the anti-drug fight, and anti-human trafficking,” Hok Lundy stressed, before adding that his services were congratulated for the confiscation of important stocks of raw material for drug production – such drug would eventually find its way to the US market.

For Hok Lundy, this US invitation absolves all the accusations made against him. The Human Rights Watch group had indeed asked the State Department to cancel Hok Lundy’s visa because of his alleged involvement in human trafficking. “The FBI acknowledged that some people are opposed to my trip. However, when the FBI asked these people to provide proof, they don’t have any!” Hok Lundy replied to his detractors.

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