Thursday, March 29, 2012

PM’s Nephew Denies Trafficking, Laundering

Source: Radio Free Asia


Cambodian military police display equipment used to make methamphetamine outside Phnom Penh, June 2, 2009.
The influential nephew of Cambodia’s prime minister calls the report baseless.
The nephew of Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen on Tuesday denied reports that he is a suspect in police investigations into illegal drug running and money laundering activities in Australia.

On Monday, Australian newspaper The Age published a report which named Hun To as the target of an inquiry into a crime syndicate police said was importing more than 1 billion Australian dollars (U.S. $1.05 billion) into the country annually, with connections to government and policing officials across Asia.

“If you want to know the truth, please talk to the Australian embassy [in Phnom Penh] because they know the details,” Hun To told RFA in an interview.

He also denied that the Australian embassy had refused him a visa.

“If the Australian embassy had denied my visa, how would I be able to travel back and forth between Australia and Cambodia? To date, I am going in and out, and no one has stopped me,” he said.

The Age reported that Hun To had been the target of an investigation between 2002 and 2004, but said that a plan to arrest him in Melbourne was “thwarted” because “his application for a visa was denied by Australian embassy officials in Phnom Penh, with one official citing the need to avoid a diplomatic incident.”

Hun To said that if he had been involved with drug trafficking, the Cambodian government would have apprehended him.

“You think that if I am involved with drugs I would be able to stay [free] in Cambodia?” he asked.

The report comes as Bob Carr, Australia’s foreign minister, wraps up a four-day visit to Cambodia at the invitation of his counterpart Hor Namhong.

Call for investigation

Meanwhile, opposition Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann on Tuesday called on Cambodia’s Ministry of Interior to launch an investigation into Hun To’s activities.

“We are urging the Ministry of Interior to investigate the information made public by the Australian newspaper so that the authorities can make a clarification before the public,” Yim Sovann said.

“There must be an investigation.”

Yim Sovann said that history has shown that people in power often abuse it.

“Families of rich and powerful officials often become rich through illegal businesses. I’m not accusing anyone, but those involved with human right abuses, forest destruction, and drugs are mostly involved with powerful officials.”

Hun To is the son of Hun Sen’s brother Hun Neang, who currently serves as the provincial governor of Kompong Cham province.

Yim Sovann said that the authorities would create an air of suspicion if they fail to investigate the case.

‘No information’

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said that the ministry does not have any information linking Hun To to drug trafficking.

“Australian and Cambodian officials are working closely to investigate transnational crimes, but we have not received any information from the Australian authorities about this case. If there was a case, we would have been working on it,” he said.

Khieu Sopheak added that the foreign media publication had not presented any evidence of Hun To’s involvement in the alleged crimes.

He said that the ministry would cooperate with Australian authorities to investigate the case, but that so far there had been no request to do so.

Hun To is working with his legal team to file a defamation lawsuit against The Age over its report, he said.

Reported by Samean Yun for RFA’s Khmer service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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