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Journalist from opposition-aligned newspaper and his son murdered; editor of same paper released, charges dropped

(SEAPA/IFEX) - SEAPA strongly condemns the fatal shooting of a Cambodian journalist and his son on 11 July 2008. Reporter Khim Sambo, 47, died on the spot after he was shot twice in the back as he emerged from a sports stadium in Phnom Penh on Friday evening. His son, Khat Sarin Theada, 22, was shot in the chest and later died in hospital.

Phnom Penh's police chief Touch Naruth said they are still looking for the perpetrators.

SEAPA joins its alerts partner organisation, the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ), in condemning this barbarous act. The organisations call on the Cambodian police and authorities to decisively bring the murderers to justice.

Khim Sambo's death comes amid heightening violence and tension in Cambodia in the run-up to general elections, scheduled for 27 July. The journalist had been working for the daily Khmer-language "Moneakseka Khmer" (Khmer Conscience), a newspaper known to back opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

"Moneakseka Khmer"'s editor, Dam Sith, was recently charged for printing allegations that Cambodia's foreign minister had ties to the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, the Agence France Presse notes. The charge was later dropped, and CAPJ says that the attack on Khim Sambo came soon after Dam Sith's release.

CAPJ President Um Sarin stressed that unless the police move swiftly and reassuringly, the attack on Khim Sambo could have a chilling effect on Cambodia's press, and taint the larger environment for the upcoming elections.

SEAPA ( http://www.seapa.org ) is a coalition of press freedom advocacy groups from Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Established in November 1998, the network aims to unite independent journalists and press-related organisations in the region into a force for the protection and promotion of press freedom and free expression in Southeast Asia. SEAPA is composed of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (Indonesia), the Jakarta-based Institute for the Study of the Free Flow of Information (ISAI), the Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and the Thai Journalists Association.

Updates the Dam Sith case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/94379

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