Wednesday, October 26, 2005

KR Commander Arrest Follows Chirac Request, KR Cafe Owner Says Closing Undemocratic

The Cambodia Daily

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

KR Cafe Owner Says Closing Undemocratic

Thet Sambath

The Khmer Rouge-theme restaurant –which shocked some visitors with its waitresses in black pajamas serving Pol Pot regime rice gruel-was officially shuttered by the Phnom Penh Municipal Tourism Department on Tuesday, its owner said.

L’histoire Cafe, located across the street from the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, was closed unofficially earlier this month after the Tourism Ministry announced that it did not have a proper license.

“I was denied to allow to reopen my restaurant Tuesday by municipal tourism officials,” restaurant owner Hakpry Sochivan said, adding that the officials told him he will not be issued a license.

The official said, however, that he would be allowed to reopen if he dropped the controversial Khmer Rouge theme.

“I never think about politics, and there is no law to prohibiting people from wearing black clothes and selling porridge,” he added.

Chin Samorn, chief of the tourism department, said a license was not granted because his superiors did not support the cafe.

“I can’t allow him to open this restaurant because it has no permission,” Chin Samorn said. “He was not doing right. We already have Tuol Sleng and other places for tourists.”

Chin Samorn added that it was not the tourism department’s aim to stifle free enterprise.

“We have tried to allow people to make business and to reduce poverty and attract more tourists into the country. He should open a simple restaurant as other people have done,” Chin Samorn said.

But Hakpry Sochivan asserted that his cafe differed little from the Apsara dancers who perform at restaurants in Siem Reap.

“Our country is following democracy and lets people do every business. I wonder why they do not allow me to do this one,” he said.

Thong Khon, Ministry of Tourism secretary of state, said he had questions about the restaurant that remained unanswered.

“I am waiting to see the report from the Municipal Tourism Department about the restaurant and their real purpose. We will question each other about this matter,” Thong Khon said.

“I don’t know [Hakpry Sochivan’s] real purpose. When we know it, we will consider what to do next.”


The Cambodia Daily

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

KR Commander Arrest Follows Chirac Request

Saing Soenthrith

Fugitive former Khmer Rouge commander Chhouk Rin was arrested on Tuesday near the Thai border in Oddar Meanchey province, National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha said.

Military police cooperated with Interior Ministry police in making the arrest, Sao Sokha said.

The arrest follows a request by French President Jacques Chirac for Chhouk Rin’s arrest during a Sept 21 meeting with Prime Minster Hun Sen in Paris.

Chhouk Rin has been on the run since February, when the Supreme Court rejected his final appeal against a life sentence issued in 2002 for his role in the 1994 murders of three backpackers from Australia, Britain and France who were taken hostage following a train attack and later executed on Vine Mountain in Kampot province.

A cousin of Chhouk Rin, who asked not to be named, said from Kampot that he received information on Tuesday afternoon that Chhouk Rin was arrested by military police in the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng, where Pol Pot died.

Chhouk Rin was arrested at 1 pm and was flown by helicopter to Phnom Penh, where he was sent directly to Prey Sar prison with the permission of the Supreme Court, said an Interior Ministry source who asked to remain anonymous.

“Chhouk Rin was arrested at his new house in Trapaing Prasat [district], where he wanted to become a farmer, while he was working on installing new windows,” said the cousin, who added that government forces handcuffed Chhouk Rin and then confiscated his motorbike.

While the arrest was taking place, Chhouk Rin threw his mobile phone into the grass, which a relative found after he was taken away, the cousin said. Relatives then contacted their kin in Kampot using the phone.

The cousin said Chhouk Rin is in good health and weighs 85kg, adding that before relocating to the Thai border, he had been hiding on Vine Mountain.


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