A Change of Guard

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Sunday 30 March 2008

Cambodian opposition leader calls for new FBI probe into bombing

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy addresses people in front of a stupa during the 11th anniversary of the March 30,1997 grenade attacks in Phnom Penh. Rainsy called for the US FBI to renew its probe into the grenade attack that killed at least 16 people.(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Cambodia's opposition leader Sam Rainsy called Sunday for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to renew its probe into a grenade attack that killed at least 16 people more than a decade ago.
Sam Rainsy addressed supporters outside Cambodia's parliament, where exactly 11 years ago four grenades were hurled into a crowd of anti-government protesters, wounding at least 120 people including a US citizen.
Despite the government's insistence that the case is still open, no one has been arrested in connection with the bloody attack.
"I not only appeal to the FBI to renew their investigation but also appeal to the FBI to reveal the result of their past investigations," he said.
"Eleven years have passed... but the truth has not yet been shown."
The FBI opened a probe into the attack after US citizen Ron Abney -- who was country director of the US-funded group the International Republican Institute at the time -- was seriously wounded by shrapnel.
But the investigation was hampered by uncooperative Cambodian government officials and became quickly bogged down.
In a statement read out at Sunday's gathering, Abney echoed calls for a thorough investigation.
"Every year we call on the Cambodian government to investigate," he said.
Human rights groups have accused Prime Minister Hun Sen's bodyguards of throwing the grenades -- a charge repeatedly denied by the premier.
New York-based Human Rights Watch on Sunday also urged the FBI to reveal what it said was "damning evidence" about Hun Sen's connection to the bombing.
"Instead of trying to protect US relations with Cambodia, it should now finish what it started," said Brad Adams, the group's Asia director.
Sam Rainsy also used to accuse Hun Sen of masterminding of the attack, but later recanted after his return in 2006 from self-imposed exile in France, where he had fled to avoid being imprisoned for defaming the premier.

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