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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cambodia denies Thai assassination plot allegation

By GRANT PECK (AP)

BANGKOK — Cambodia on Tuesday strongly denied allegations in Thailand that members of the anti-government Red Shirt movement were trained in Cambodian territory to assassinate top Thai leaders, including the prime minister.

A senior Thai security official alleged Monday that 11 men who were arrested last week in the northern Thai province of Chiang Mai were among 39 given ideological and combat training in a "neighboring country."

Lt. Col. Payao Thongsen, a senior investigator for the Department of Special Investigation, did not name the country when he made the allegation at a news conference. But he described the routes the men allegedly took to their training ground, which led to Cambodian border crossings.
Cambodia denied the accusation.

"Why would we need to do this? Cambodia would receive absolutely no benefit from training these people," government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Tuesday. "Cambodia strongly rejects these allegations."

Cambodia's relations with Thailand have been contentious for years, with the focus mostly on a border dispute.

The Thai allegations also raise the stakes domestically in an increasingly convoluted political battle that began in 2006, when elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted by a military coup for alleged corruption and disrespect toward Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The coup, which was touted as a way to restore stability after months of anti-Thaksin demonstrations that had all but paralyzed his administration, instead polarized the country, with Thaksin's opponents and supporters both protesting in the streets ever since.

The Red Shirts include many Thaksin supporters as well as activists opposed to military interference in politics.

Two months of protests earlier this year by the Red Shirts — formally called the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, or UDD — demanding early elections degenerated into violence. About 90 people were killed in clashes before the army cleared the streets of demonstrators on May 19. Most top Red Shirt leaders have been detained on terrorism charges.

Dozens of bombings widely thought to be linked to the political strife have also plagued Bangkok this year.

Payao said the 39 alleged trainees were part of a conspiracy to topple Thailand's monarchy, an allegation that his agency — the equivalent of the FBI in the United States — has made in the past against Red Shirts and their sympathizers.

"During the training, they were taught by the Thai UDD members who were in the neighboring country about political beliefs and more importantly about hatred toward the institution," he said in an interview with the government-owned MCOT television network.

"The institution" is a common euphemism for the monarchy, which until recent years has been held in almost universal high regard. However, some Red Shirts and social critics perceive that some palace circles were involved in the coup.

A report on MCOT's Web site said that Payao asserted that the alleged terrorists' three weeks of training "was held in a Cambodian army camp and they were trained by Cambodian soldiers." The website of several Thai newspapers cited him making the same assertion.

Payao said the men were "trained to know almost every kind of weapon," including assault rifles and grenade launchers, and were also shown the use of C4 plastic explosive.

He did not explain why Cambodia would be involved in such a conspiracy.

The two nations have had small, sometimes deadly, skirmishes over the demarcation of their border near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple. Relations worsened last year, with both countries withdrawing ambassadors, after Cambodian leader Hun Sen made Thaksin an official adviser and hosted him like a VIP. Thaksin recently resigned that position, and both countries restored their ambassadors.

MCOT reported that Payao said the alleged assassination targets included Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, recently resigned Deputy Prime Minster Suthep Thaugsuban, influential politician Newin Chidchob and a senior police officer.

Payao displayed what he said was evidence of the plot, including maps and photos. None of the 11 men arrested in Chiang Mai have been produced for the press to give their side of the story.

MCOT reported that Jatuporn Prompan, a Red Shirt leader and member of Parliament, denied that his movement was part of any assassination plot.
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Ties with Cambodia strained over reds

By The Nation

P Penh denies Bangkok claim red warriors got weapons training in Siem Reap; NSC backs up DSI findings

Thailand and Cambodia have found their newly restored relations at another highly delicate juncture after a Thai police investigation revealed militant red shirts were allegedly trained in Siem Reap.

The Cambodian government yesterday denied that red militants had been trained on its soil to carry out acts of terror in Thailand, while in Bangkok the government tried to cushion the impact on bilateral ties by saying Phnom Penh leaders had no policy of supporting such alleged training.

The bombshell allegations were made by the Department of Special Investigation on Monday and backed up by the National Security Council (NSC) yesterday

Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said his country would receive no benefit from either sheltering or training red militants, while the spokesman's office for the Cambodian government said the report was a fabrication, and that giving weapons training to foreigners was against its constitution.

A statement released yesterday by the spokesman's office claimed the allegation was a Thai government plan to undermine the red-shirt movement for political gain. "It's a nonsense that Cambodia would want to have problems with anyone for no reason," the statement said.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) cited interviews with 11 men accused of seeking weapons training, who were arrested recently at a Chiang Mai resort. And it released details of similar weapons training for another 24 men in Cambodia.

DSI director-general Tharit Phengdit said yesterday details about Cambodia's training of some 39 red militants needed further verification.

Media reports cited different numbers of red militants becoming active after completion of weapons courses they attended, either in Thailand or elsewhere. The total number mentioned is 64 overall, with four allegedly assigned as bodyguards for wanted militant Arisman Pongruengrong.

Details from interviews with the 11 men, who have sought protection with the DSI and given much more information, will forwarded to the government's Centre for Resolution for the Emergency Situation (CRES). It will then decide how to deal with the issue, with advice from the Foreign Ministry.

Spokesman Panitan Wattanaya-gorn said Cambodia's denial about weapons training was being verified, but the issue would be discussed between Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his counterpart Hun Sen at the 17th Asean meeting in Vietnam on October 28-30. He said Hun Sen had pledged to look into the matter to determine "how credible it could have been" after he met with Abhisit at the Asia Europe Meeting in Brussels on October 4 and 5.

Panitan said the Brussels meeting had a good atmosphere and both leaders made an unofficial pledge to exchange intelligence tip-offs about criminals from one country fleeing to the other.

He said the weapons training courses included bomb-making, demolition, use of firearms and grenade launchers, and given only to successful candidates.

The CRES was keeping a close watch on hard-core red-shirt groups. "Security officials will keep pressuring them to prevent them from being fully active," he added.

NSC secretary-general Thawit Pliansri had confirmed the DSI's

intelligence report about the red

militants receiving weapons training in Cambodia.

Justice Minister Pirapan Sali-rathavibhaga said more details were being gathered to verify that Arisman had been linked to the weapons training before Thailand decides whether to ask Cambodia to extradite him to face indictments here.
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Residents Claim Flooding From Developer's Lake Fill

Cambodian amputee beggar is given money by a passerby while wading in flooded street in Phnom penh


Heavy rains on Monday flooded the homes of at least 1,000 people in the Boeung Kak lake area of Phnom Penh, where residents say the pumping of sand and mud into the lake by a city developer has diminished a natural drainage system.

Most have now temporarily evacuated their flooded homes.

More than 50 people gathered in front of City Hall Tuesday to protest against the development, which has met with continued criticism.

The protesters delivered a complaint to city officials claiming their homes were filled with up to a half a meter of water after heavy rains. Some staid behind to yell their dismay, saying the development of areas of Phnom Penh were not good for its people.

Residents said Tuesday such flooding did not happen before Shukaku, Inc., began filling the lake as a development site.

Officials for Shukaku, which began filling the lake for a $79 million development in 2008, were not available for comment. The company is at odds with thousands of residents who say they have been offered a buy-out that is too small.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatevong said Tuesday the flooding was not caused by the pumping. Many areas of the capital had flooded as a result of heavy rains and a lack of drainage citywide, he said.

“Last night, I didn't sleep well, because of flooding in my house,” Laom Eang, a 38-year-old noodle vendor at Village 24 in the Srah Chok commune of Daun Penh district, said. She sat at her home, where she cooks for customers, and where floodwater 30 centimeters deep covered the floor. “I've never seen flooding like this after heavy rains,” she said, blaming the fill development, which seeks to cover about 120 hectares of lake.

Nearby, Kong Sokha, 44, who rents out a mobile gas stove from house to house, said he could no longer live in the area.

“I'm afraid the flood level will become higher and higher,” he said. “I've rented this house for nearly two months, but I've never seen it flood like this. The flood pollution has given me a little headache. My wife and I have decided to move to another place where there is no flood, to avoid danger.”
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Indochine Mining to raise millions

Gold and copper miner Indochine Mining Ltd, which is exploring concessions in two Cambodian provinces, said it expects to raise as much as AU$25 million (US$24.5 million) in an initial public offering after receiving commitments from investors worldwide.

Indochine’s Phnom Penh-based operations manager and board member Ross Hill said that many institutional investors were seeking exposure to Cambodia’s gold and copper resources, with investors confirmed from the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the United States, Papua New Guinea, China, Malaysia and Australia.

“Already attracted at an early stage and continuing to support the company are some of the world’s most prestigious and professional investment houses,” he told the Post via email.

“For example, the company’s largest single investor Jabre Capital Partners is one of Europe’s biggest and the best performing fund in 2009.”

Priced at AU$0.20 per share, Indochine aimed to raise $12 million with provision to float another $13 million worth of shares, depending on demand.

With tenements of 2,900 square kilometres in Ratanakiri province and 1,400 square kilometres in Kratie province, Indochine claims to have the largest landholding of all miners in the Kingdom....read the full story in tomorrow’s Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.

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Heavy rain, strong winds force cancellation of all flights in Cambodia

By The Associated Press (CP)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia has suspended all flights to its two international airports due to heavy rain and strong winds.

Civil aviation official Him Sarun says the suspension at the airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap started at 10 a.m. Monday (0300 GMT) and would remain in effect as long as the weather was bad. He says some 20 flights to and from other countries were cancelled. Domestic flights were also stopped.

Him Sarun said Monday: "We did it for the sake of travellers' safety." He says that pilots could not see the runway.

The Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology says the poor weather conditions started Sunday and would last until at least Wednesday. All-day rain flooded parts of capital Phnom Penh as deep as 1 metre (3.3 feet). Read more!

Sam Rainsy Holds Congress, Vows Pursuit of Hun Sen

Phnom Penh residents are treated in Kalameth Hospital for wounds after grenade attacked in Capital Phnom Penh on Saturday afternoon July 5 1997. Fighting broke out between troops loyal to the rival prime ministers and shellfire hit downtown areas.



The exiled leader of Cambodia's main opposition met with supporters in a party congress in Canada over the weekend, saying he would not back down on complaints against the ruling prime minister for crimes against humanity.

Sam Rainsy, whose party holds 26 of 123 National Assembly seats, said he will seek the arrest of Prime Minister Hun Sen for crimes committed during Cambodia's period of civil war, among others.

“We must file complaints to all the courts for the arrest of Hun Sen,” he told some 350 party supporters at the congress in Montreal.

“No need to wait until 2013,” he added, a reference to the date of the next national election. “The sooner the better. And this time I will not back off, brothers and sisters, because I am determined that this time will not be a protest in exchange for my return to Cambodia. I do not want to go back to Cambodia as long as Hun Sen is still destroying the nation and still serving the Vietnamese.”

Sam Rainsy is facing a total 12 years in jail on charges related to continued allegations, including a map on his party website, that the Vietnamese have encroached on Cambodian land. The issues of border encroachment and the government's relationship with Hanoi remain hot-button items for some Cambodians.

Sam Rainsy said he has filed complaints to the courts of the US, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands, alleging Hun Sen's collusion in a number of violent incidents in Cambodia's recent history.

Sam Rainsy has charged that Hun Sen was involved in the 1997 grenade attack on an opposition rally; extrajudicial killings in the 1997 coup over coalition partner Funcinpec; the killings of non-violent demonstrators and monks in 1998; and atrocities against civilians along the border during the civil war in the 1980s.

Officials have denied the premier's involvement in the alleged crimes.

The latter policy “caused hundreds of thousands of Cambodians to die,” Sam Rainsy told the party congress. “That's why we've taken action against Hun Sen, to arrest Hun Sen and convict him by law.”

He likened Hun Sen to Manuel Noriaga, a Panamanian dictator, and Charles Taylor, the ex-president of Liberia who is on international trial for alleged war crimes.

“I believe Hun Sen cannot avoid a fate like that of Noriega and Charles Taylor,” he said to applause.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said Tuesday Sam Rainsy's charges had no legitimacy and that it was “impossible” for Cambodia to have a dictator. Hun Sen was duly elected, he said.

Sam Rainsy, who has already filed a complaint in New York for the 1997 grenade attack, will travel to the European Union, where he hopes to collect signatures from parliamentarians to reactive the Paris Peace Agreement, thereby calling on its signatories to push harder for human rights, an independent court and other democratic institutions.

“All those countries with obligations vowed in the Paris agreement to ensure Cambodia's independent sovereignty,” he said. “Now where is the independence? Sovereignty? And freedom, where is freedom?”

Ruling party lawmaker Cheam Yiep said the Cambodian People's Party “completely” rejects accusations the country has not followed the peace agreement, citing the National Assembly, institutions of law and order, and democracy.
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Security guard pleads self-defence in murder case

Phnom Penh Municipal Court has heard the case against a security guard charged with the premeditated murder of a Malaysian businessman and his Cambodian chef in February.

Nop Thearo, 20, was arrested on February 24 after being accused of stabbing Lim Theang An – the 71-year-old director of the Karasans company, a Malaysia-based engineering firm – to death the previous night at his house in Chamkarmon district’s Boeung Keng Kang I commune.

He is also accused of murdering Cambodian Hem Mali, 51, who was working that night as a chef for Lim Theang An.

According to a police report the accused allegedly stabbed the pair while working the evening shift at the Chamkarmon house. He later allegedly moved the bodies to the trunk of the victim’s car with the intention of abandoning the vehicle.

However, the report said he then changed his mind and dragged the bodies back to the entrance of the house, then brought a safe from downstairs in an attempt to fool police into thinking their deaths were the result of a robbery. The accused then waited for police to arrive.

Nop Thearo denied the charges against him during the court hearing, insisting he had been acting in self-defence.

“I heard loud sounds during the night, and I went to investigate and accidentally touched the front door,” he said. “The old woman then began to shout ‘thief’, but I tried to tell her, ‘It is me, Thearo’.”

He told the court the pair kept screaming, prompting him to try to cover Lim Theang An’s mouth.

He said he was then struck by Lim Theang An in the head with a petrol can.

“He grabbed a knife and stabbed me in the stomach, but I fought him and stabbed him with his own knife in the stomach just once,” he said.

“The old woman then came at me with a knife, but I dodged it and she stabbed the man in the stomach a second time.”

He said the woman then grabbed his penis and refused to let go, leading him to stab her. “It really hurt, and I told her to take her hands away but she ignored me,” he said. “I then attacked her with the knife twice.”...read the full story in tomorrow’s Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.
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