A police general who served under the late Hok Lundy and is
an in-law of Prime Minister Hun Sen has been selected to lead the nation’s
police force, following a deadly helicopter crash Sunday.
Gen. Neth Savoeun, who has served in the police as well as the Ministry of Interior and is
married to Hun Sen’s niece, was officially decreed as national police chief
The former chief, Hok Lundy, a powerful Cambodian People’s
Party general who continually faced allegations of serious human rights abuses,
died Sunday night, when a helicopter transporting him to his home province of Svay Rieng crashed.
“King Norodom Sihamoni officially signed the decree to
appoint Gen. Neth Savoeun late Monday as the national police chief to replace
Hok Lundy,” Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak said Tuesday. “I
and all Cambodian police welcome the new appointment. Neth Savoeun has a lot of
experience in the police.”
Neth Savoeun, 52, was police chief of Phnom Penh during the
State of Cambodia, served as the head of the justice department in the Interior
Ministry’s Penal Crimes Division after the 1993 elections, and recently became
a deputy national police chief under Hok Lundy. He married Hun Sen’s niece, Hun
Kimleng, in the early 1990s.
Contacted Tuesday, Neth Savoeun declined to comment on his
appointment, saying he was busy with funeral ceremonies for Hok Lundy, who is
scheduled to be buried in Svay Rieng’s Rumduol district Saturday.
“I’m not thinking about who [specifically] is appointed,”
Chan Soveth, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc said. “But I want the
person appointed as the new general of national police to have a good
background, not to be involved in corruption, not be involved in human
trafficking, or drug trafficking, or involved in killings. So I hope that the
government has decided to appoint Neth Savoeun because his background is not
involved in these.”
During his 14-year tenure as chief, Hok Lundy was accused of
all these crimes, including collaboration in the 1997 grenade attack on
opposition supporters, which killed 16 people, and extrajudicial killings
during the 1997 CPP coup. He was denied US entry on suspicion of human
trafficking in 2006, but had in recent years become an ally of the FBI for
Under Hok Lundy, the national police force was routinely criticized for torture, corruption and abuse of power.
Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, said Neth
Savoeun lacked qualifications.
“As I’ve known him before, he has not graduated from the Police Academy,
and his rank comes from his relations to a high-ranking official, or nepotism,”
said Kem Sokha, who was arrested by the national police in 2006 and spent 17
days in jail on charges of defamation.
Asked whether Neth Savoeun could reform the national police,
Kem Sokha said, “I don’t think it depends on Neth Savoeun. Whatever the
national police chief did before, it was dependent on the government. [Police]
weren’t independently allowed to do anything.”