Sunday, September 24, 2006

Pchum Ben - In memory of those who died: Piseth Pilika's case published by L'Express

The Victim: Late actress Piseth Pilika

The would-be sponsor of the killing: First lady Bun Rany Hun Sen

The would-be philanderer-husband: Prime Minister Hun Sen

The purported white knight: General Hok Lundy, Cambodia national police chief

Revelations on a State crime

By Alain Louyot
07 October 1999

Translated from French by Luc Sâr

Was the very popular dancer and actress Piseth Pilika killed by the senior officials of the regime? The exclusive testimonials and never published before documents collected by L’Express confirm it.

While her body was ridden with bullets, she lost blood on this deadly morning of July 6, 1999, the star so loved and admired by Cambodian people wanted to provide justice to the 2 million anonymous victims of the Khmer Rouge monstrosity. Piseth Pilika whispered to her 7-year-old niece – who is also injured – to her sister and her cousin who drove her at a maddening speed to the Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh, the name of her killer. A name which was already sadly famous under the Pol Pot regime, and which she cited several times in the last pages of her private dairy. She asked her loved ones to reveal it – in the event she died – as someone had predicted it for her. Pilika died of her wounds last July 13. Today, it is up to L’Express, to which the witnesses of this tragedy had confided to, short of being able to tell the police in their country, to comply to the last wish of this dancer and movie actress, shot by several closed range bullets by a hired killer for a State pseudo-reason. The murder of Pilika, robbed in the prime of her 34-year-old, is a crime which is too often inflicted on Cambodian people. Their almighty sponsors – former communist Khmer Rouge – will maybe learn one day at their own expense, that it is not sufficient to be highly placed to claim the right to assassinate a star.

It was said that her funeral, in mid-july, was the most moving one by the public fervor, which Phnom Penh had ever known in the last twenty years. Carried by the crowd of admirers, under the throbbing sound of drums and Khmer traditional flute, her coffin was incinerated on the campus of the University of Fine Arts where the admired star taught classical dance. “Pilika was a great actress representing the Cambodian culture… Along with her family, I am wishing that for the peace of her soul, her killer will be arrested soon, and that justice is served,” a moved Princess Bopha Devi, eldest daughter of King Norodom Sihanouk, declared. “We loved you because you were beautiful, gentle, modest and generous, we will never forget you!” cried thousands of ordinary citizens who came from all over the country, while a white smoke floated up from the funeral pyre as if to lift their idol towards the sky. “One day, she came over to buy oranges. I was fascinated by her beauty and her wisdom. Her image remains engraved in my heart,” a fruit seller confided while offering incense sticks and a few money bills. In respect of this almost national mourning, numerous stores were spontaneously closed, wile the music industry and the Cambodian newspapers increase their publications. The most famous songwriters and music composers of the country wrote to describe Pilika’s tragic story. “What did I do wrong?” the dead star asks through the voice of the famous singer whose CDs are in high demand in the stalls of the Central Market in Phnom Penh. Another “hit” is called “The death of our fiancée” … On the airwaves, Station 103 left the night open to collect condolences made by fans of the missing actress. As for the newspapers –such as the Rasmei Kampuchea and the Koh Santepheap – their printing volume reached a new height, and their printing could not answer to the demand of the readers who want to understand the bottom of this horrendous crime.

On this beginning of October 1999, three months have passed since the tragedy took place, but no clue has yet been found. “Witnesses of the actress death are still not being heard” featured the title of an article by The Cambodia Daily, fifteen days after the murder. The second title of the article was also very eloquent: “Several went into hiding for fear of powerful people.” The reporter explained: “Several people were present in the busy street no. 182 at the time the shotgun was fired on the actress, but everybody went into hiding behind a curtain of silence. Several confessed that, if they were to talk freely to the police, they are afraid they would have problems…” It is a fact that several Cambodian newspapers start to insinuate that the ravishing Piseth Pilika was gunned down on the order of a high State official. One of the newspapers, Samleng Yuvachon Khmer (“Voice of Khmer Youth”) even cited some sources who claim the actress would have been assassinated in order to prevent a scandal of the “Lewinsky [and Bill Clinton] type affair.” It even went on to publish a picture of the Clinton couple next to that of the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife, Bun Rany …

Now, L’Express is able to affirm it: it is in fact the name of the current wife of the Cambodian government leader that Piseth Pilika left in her private diary and pronounced it several times before her death. In fact, on the morning of July 6 when she met her [tragic] fate, the famous dancer was not alone. Several people in her family (two adults and two children) accompanied her because she decided to buy a bicycle for her 12-year-old nephew who just passed his exam. Shortly after they entered the Derong bicycle shop, in the old O’Russei market in Phnom Penh, a man in his thirties calmly walked into the store and emptied his gun on Piseth Pilika. Her niece, Sereimean, was – as we said earlier – wounded in the shooting. Along with the actress’ sister, Sereimean was able to flee Cambodia by road through Thailand. We met both of them about a week ago, somewhere in Europe. “When the man shot the first time, I first thought that it was a bike tire that someone punched,” the timid young girl told the story while pressing in her uninjured hand a Barbie doll. “My aunt fell down on her back while yelling ‘Help me!’ and I followed her to the ground next to her. It hurts me a lot,” the little girl continued, she was also shot, meanwhile, the killer coldly finished his job before fleeing on a motorbike driven by an accomplice. The bullet pierced the right hand of the little girl and ended up in her stomach, it could not be removed. Still accompanied by two children, the sister and the cousin brought to the rear seat of their car the grievously wounded actress to take her to the hospital, as fast as possible. During the trip, Pilika – who did not die until a week later – found the strength to pronounce a few more words. “My aunt who were lying next to me said: ‘It is Mrs. Hun Sen who did that’,” the little girl said calmly. Her held up emotion and her frank look could not be mistaken. Pilika’s sister, her confidante since the first stage of the affair between the actress and Prime Minister Hun Sen, strongly and serenely confirmed this testimonial. She added: “When my sister, on her gurney, realized that she was driven to the Calmette Hospital, where all the officials of the regime are being cared for, she wanted to leave [because she was] scared that they would finish her off.” She died there seven days later after being conscious in between two surgeries.

However, more scary still are the accusations and the tale of her tragic affair the Cambodian star left in the private diary that L’Express was able to look into. On the entry of Monday, May 10, 1999 – two months before her assassination attempt, she wrote: “Mr. Hok Lundy, general director of the national police, asked me to come see him because he had something important to tell me. He sent two bodyguards to fetch me. I asked my sister to accompany me… I met Hok Lundy in a discrete restaurant in the district of Kien Svay. He advised me to go into hiding somewhere for a while, because Mrs. Bun Rany Hun Sen was furious with jealousy against me and wanted to kill me… I do not know if they will spare my life or they will condemn me to death because they are the masters of the country… Only God can come to my rescue…” The fact that Hok Lundy, the police director, took the risk, against [the lost of] his career, to warn the Cambodian star of the terrible danger awaiting her is not too surprising. First of all, because as all Cambodian people, he (Hok Lundy) was one the admirers and [he was probably] even somewhat in love with her (Piseth Pilika), but, most of all, because he came from the same village as Pilika, in the province of Svay Rieng, neighboring Vietnam. It was in fact in this place, the actress later confessed to her sister, that the police chief advised her to take refuge as soon as possible.

The danger became clear the day Hun Sen break off from his young mistress, once his wife discovered their affair. “I was only an insect attracted by the flame”, she wrote in her diary. Born from a very modest family, having lost her parents, who died of malnutrition and disease under the tyranny of Pol Pot, at the age of 13, and unhappy in her marriage, she could not be more fascinated by the love declaration the Prime Minister of the country confessed to her in August 1998. At first, she did not dare write his name in her diary: “Late at night, … called me over the phone. I was very happy, at the same time apprehended and overjoyed, I could barely talk. Then nothing. Next, he called me again. This time, I only felt the joy because he thought about me; his words were worthy of respect and love… Our first rendez-vous took place on August 18, 1998, at 8:00 o’clock, in the house behind the Botum pagoda. I decided to ask for divorce, because I thought that I could not remain married, even if the new one would abandon me … My relation with … became very close.” A few months later, the name of the Prime Minister clearly appears in the private diary: “My relations with Samdech Hun Sen are excellent … On January 31, 1999, slightly before 10:00 PM, he came to the new house I just bought in Takhmao. Then he visited me again at night… His words were so tender, I did not dare believe it…”

In this country which is so poor, Hun Sen dazed his ravishing mistress with sumptuous gifts. He bought her – in cash – a property close to his own residence and a house for $180,000. He opened her a bank account filled with $200,000. At the same time, the Prime Minister discretely intervened to the justice [system] to speed up the divorce process of his mistress. Alas! Even though the ex-husband, with whom the actress had a son with, made a new life in Australia, he returned back to Phnom Penh to attend the funeral. The clandestine affair between Pilika and Hun Sen soon turned into a nightmare. “When his wife learnt about relation, and after we stopped talking to each other over the phone, my heart broke… On Sunday, April 11, 1999, Samdech Hun Sen called me one last time. He asked me not to see him again, and to deny that anything ever happened between us… I could not forget him, I remained prostrated for hours… I wrote poems which came from the bottom of my soul, I cried every day, and my heart was filled with bitterness.” However, humiliation soon followed her sadness. On Monday, April 19, an influential Cambodian businessman, close to Hun Sen, who notably works for several foreign companies, summoned the actress and asked her to thumbprint a sales form transferring the property of the house offered to her by the Prime Minister to his [legitimate] wife.

“I was deeply wounded, I could not say a single world, I obeyed, iron in the soul,” Pilika wrote. Several days later, when she went to the Canadia bank to withdraw money, she learnt that her account had been closed on order of Bun Rany, the country’s first lady. In the same manner, emissaries were sent to take back what she received from her illustrious lover: a 4x4 Toyota, a phone, photos… She was nevertheless able to hide and preserve a poem handwritten by Hun Sen – which was since then identified as his through handwriting comparison with official documents – as well as some personal belongings the Prime Minister forgot at his mistress’ home. These added to the collection of precious conviction proofs which are now kept in a safe place far from Phnom Penh. However, in spite of the humiliation inflicted on Pilika, the thirst for revenge of Mrs. Bun Rany Hun Sen is far from being quenched. On the first attempt, hired killers were engaged, this is not a problem in a Cambodia filled with a Far West atmosphere where one can hire the services of killers for only $400. But then, when it comes to eliminating a star who is so adored, even the most “professional” criminals hesitate. After refusing this mission, members of the team which was initially contacted warned people close to the actress before going into hiding in a border zone. The second team fulfilled its contract. Four days after the assassination, Each Chandara, Pilika’s brother-in-law and father of the young Sereimean who was injured by bullets and was the confidante of the last words of her aunt, was cornered in his car by several army vehicles. Members of the military police beat him up with the butt of their rifles and threatened him: “You shut up, don’t get involved in the death of your sister-in-law!” A crowd gathered after the soldiers left the scene in this northern district of Phnom Penh. The incident was detailed in the first page of The Cambodia Daily on July 12. At the Ministry of Interior and at the army headquarter, no one is aware of it…

“We know, since the day of the assassination attempt, that, in any case, our lives are in danger. If we talk and the truth comes out to the daylight, both in our country and abroad, that will be our best protection,” Piseth Pilika’s sister said. Right now, in the US, some officials are mobilizing themselves so that justice is served: an official letter had just been sent on September 16, 1999 to Madeleine Albright, US State secretary, by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher to alert about the possible involvement of Hun Sen and his wife in the murder of Piseth Pilika. What is certain is that, through the tragic destiny of their star, the Cambodian people are reliving theirs. These are all the ingredients of life in Phnom Penh: absolute power; impunity and cynicism of the leaders who are former Khmer Rouge – Hun Sen was one of their unit commander – who are today pretending to judge their former brothers in barbary; corruption and violence within an anarchic world; distress of women inside a society where they are, most often than not, reduced to an object of pleasure and to perform a role of servant. We are shedding light in all this in order that Pilika’s sacrifice, as well as the sacrifice made by several others before her, are not in vain, it is undoubtedly what the star of the Cambodian people wanted to do before succumbing.


Anonymous said...

The face of that Viet-Chinese Bun Nary deserves that flesh-eating acid, not anybody else's!


La face du soi-disant metis Viet-Chinois Bun Nary merite bien cette sorte d'acide, non pas celle des autres!

Anonymous said...

And ah HUN SEN's ugly prick should be cut off and fed the Viet's cancerous black dog for what he has done and doing to CAMBODIA and KHMER people.

Anonymous said...

And Pilika's stupid mistake costed her life. She loved money, power, and somebody's else husband. They warned her many times she denied them due to her greediness...

Anonymous said...

To brother 9:22AM

Oh please! In Cambodia AH THUG HUN SEN can turn any beautiful woman into a prostitute! Do you think a powerless beautiful woman like Pilika can stop AH THUG HUN SEN and AH HOC LUNDY from having their way? These sexual predators consider themselves lucky for not touching my wife!

This is not about greed. It is about survival.

Anonymous said...

To writer @ 9:22am

You don't know what would happened to her if she refused this monster (Hun Sen). Please don't blame on the victim. Please be wise!


Anonymous said...

Ah HOK Longdy said Ah Sen is just one dog that always eats something after him. Anyways, these two blood suckers must be sentenced to life in prison.

Anonymous said...

the wife, the husband and tha ugly police also known as the vietnamese undercover whatever became a cambodia police chief them all three deserve death penalty and death penalty to all that are behind controlling them to do all the killing and etc...they're doing it because the vietnamese say so. Hun Sen ain't a THUG he a sissy! sissy to lose his life if he's not going to take order from the viet to kill his own people. the UN need to bring them to justice. i bet every word coming out there mouth is 100% lies.

Anonymous said...

rotten in hell AH HUN SEN! hurry up and die! give our people back the donation money not for your kids education or you bitch ass wife! your an animal!