>Cambodian government mourns Gen. Hok Lundy’s death

Lt-Gen. Neth Savoeun, who is Hun Sen’s nephew-in-law, will serve as acting police commissioner

Monday, November 10, 2008
The Associated Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Cambodia’s government began preparations Monday for the funeral of the country’s controversial national police chief, a close ally of Prime Minister Hun Sen who was killed in a helicopter crash.

Police Commissioner-General Hok Lundy, (pictured) 51, died Sunday night when the helicopter he was traveling in crashed in Svay Rieng province in southeastern Cambodia, apparently because of bad weather.

Hok Lundy had a reputation for ruthlessness as well as loyalty to Hun Sen, whose son, Hun Manit, is married to the late police chief’s daughter, Hok Chendavy.

His death was a great national loss and a profound sorrow for the police force,” said police Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, which oversees the police force.

The pilot, co-pilot and a deputy commander of the Cambodian army were also killed in the crash, Khieu Sopheak said.

Last year, the New York-based group Human Rights Watch urged the U.S. government to cancel a visa issued to Hok Lundy to attend an FBI-sponsored conference on human trafficking, accusing him of having ordered an extrajudicial killing and involvement in drug smuggling and human trafficking. He attended the conference and was urged by State Department officials to make greater efforts to punish public officials, including police, involved in trafficking.

The U.S. had denied Hok Lundy a visa in early 2006 for reasons never made public.

Cambodian government officials dismissed the Human Rights Watch allegations as nonsense.

Khieu Sopheak said the Interior Ministry has set up a committee to organize a traditional Buddhist funeral for Hok Lundy.

Police Lt. Gen. Neth Savoeun – who is married to a niece of Hun Sen – will serve as acting commissioner-general of police, he said.

Hok Lundy’s helicopter took off from the capital, Phnom Penh, at 7:20 p.m. on Sunday and lost contact with air controllers about 15 minutes later, Khieu Sopheak said. He said there was a “99 percent” chance that bad weather was responsible for the crash since it was raining at the time.

Mao Havannal, head of the Secretariat for Civil Aviation, said he sent investigators to the crash site but the cause had not yet been determined.

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