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Khmer Krom Ask Hun Sen to Help in Monk Case

A Khmer Kampuchea Krom advocacy group has asked Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene in the case of a former monk being held in Vietnam.

The group asked to be able to visit Tim Sakhorn, a defrocked Khmer Krom monk who was arrested earlier this month and is being held in Vietnam for entering the country without a visa.

Khmer Krom groups have rallied around Tim Sakhorn, whom rights groups fear was forcibly taken to Vietnam, and the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community has asked Hun Sen for help with the Vietnamese government.

The former monk has been held since Aug. 2 and neither rights groups nor his family know his condition, the organization said. They asked Hun Sen to urge authorities in Hanoi to permit visitation.

"We sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him, one, to help intervene with the Vietnamese government to allow his relatives and the human rights organizations visitation rights in the detention center in Vietnam to check his health. If we don't monitor closely, the Vietnamese authorities may torture him," said Thach Setha, President of Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community. "Two, to intervene with all diplomatic means in line with constitutional and national laws to help bring Venerable Tim Sakhorn back to Cambodia. And three, to investigate, to find and punish the culprits who sent Venerable Tim to Vietnam."

The Interior Ministry maintains the former monk asked to be taken to Vietnam after he was defrocked by Cambodian Buddhist leaders for allegedly stirring unrest between Cambodia and Vietnam, but witnesses said he was forced into a car by unknown assailants and was not seen again at his Takeo province pagoda.

Spokesmen for Hun Sen were unavailable for comment Monday.