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FBI to Aid in Case of Murdered Journalist

The Ministry of Interior has accepted an offer of help from the FBI in investigating the pre-election murder of an opposition journalist, officials said Monday.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday had accepted the FBI's help in the case of Khim Sambor, and opposition journalist, and his son, who were both killed July 11 in a Phnom Penh shooting, two weeks before the national elections.

The cooperation met with approval from many Monday, but it remained unclear what role the US agency would play.

Kim Sambor's daughter, Kath Sarinda, 24, said she supported the cooperation.

"I hope that they will bring in the real killer, not the fake killer, like in the Chea Vichea case," she said.

Labor leader Chea Vichea was shot dead in 2004, and two men widely considered innocent each received 20-year prison sentences for the murder.

The US Embassy received an official request from the Ministry of Interior, , a US Embassy spokesman said. It was too early to speculate how the FBI might help, the spokesman, John Johnson, said.

The FBI will make the investigation faster, he said, because the FBI has more experience and resources.

Phnom Penh Police Chief Touch Naroth said he would be happy to work with the FBI in an investigation that is already underway.

Moneaksekar Khmer editor Dam Sith welcomed the aid of the FBI, and Adhoc director Thun Saray called it a "positive" signal.

If a killer is not found with the help of the FBI, public opinion will be more calm, Thun Saray said. The cooperation will be seen as an opening of the government to international police efforts, showing a greater will for Cambodia to find the killer.

Twelve reporters have been killed since 1994, but is the first time the FBI has helped in such an investigation.