Police report on the disappearance of Mr Sombath Somphone

Vientiane Times, 4 Feb 2013

[Note: The video can be seen here]


The Ministry of Public Security has produced a preliminary report on their ongoing investigations into the disappearance of Mr Sombath Somphone.
Sombath09 - pickup departs
Here is the full text of the report as received by the Vientiane Times :
Briefing on the result of the preliminary investigation on the case of Mr Sombath Somphone’s disappearance by Police Colonel Dr Phengsavanh Thipphavongxay, Deputy Director General, General Police Department on 11 January 2013.

  • Pursuant to the request for assistance to find a missing person by Ms Ng Shui Meng, spouse of Mr Sombath Somphone, dated 17 December 2012.
  • Based on its mandate and legal duty and assignment given by the Minister of Public Security, dated 17 December 2012 to the Department of General Police together with the Vientiane Police Headquarters to conduct the search for Mr Sombath Somphone.
  • Based on the establishment of the committee in charge of solving the case in collaboration with the Vientiane Police by the General Police Department No. 1670/PL, dated 20 December 2012.

Following the investigation, information collection, and news from various sources, I, on behalf of the committee in charge of solving this case, would like to brief on the preliminary result of the investigation as follows:

1. There were collaboration and cooperation with various concerned technical departments of the Public Security Ministry and Vientiane Police officers to jointly search for Mr Sombath Somphone, especially to review the information from the CCTV footage of the incident recorded on the date. According to the footage, at 18:03 hours the traffic police conducted a regular random check for car documents, and among those checked cars there was a check on a Jeep resembled to the car reported in the incident. It was found that the driver walked out of the car and went to the area around the back of the Jeep.

After that a man on a motorbike came and parked it on the footpath near the Jeep and then walked into the direction where the owner of the Jeep walked to.

Thereafter, a man walked to and entered the Jeep and drove it away. About 8 minutes later, a pick up truck came and stopped at the roadside near where the Jeep had parked. A little while after, two people entered the pick up truck and then the pick up truck went away.

From the CCTV footage, it can not be verified that the person who drove the Jeep and the person who later drove the Jeep away was Mr Sombath Somphone or not or who he was and the two persons who entered the pick up truck can not be identified.

After having interrogated the traffic police who were working at the car checking area on that day, it was reported that there was a regular random check on cars on daily basis and they could not remember whose cars they have checked and which one belongs to whom as they have checked many cars each day. After checking the documents and when all documents were found correct, they then returned them to the car owners and allowed them to go according to the rules and regulations. They also confirmed that in the area under their responsibility during the time of reported incident, the situation was normal and there was no any incident of fighting or violence occurred and no car or individual was detained.

Besides, there was an information collection from the people living nearby and no one reported on any incident.

2. A notice was sent to all police forces nationwide for following up and searching for Mr Sombath Somphone. Until today we received feedback from provincial polices that there was no information, evidence, or any news on the whereabouts of Mr Sombath Somphone.

3. There were also conducts of information collection from the reported missing person’s family and relatives, from village administrative authority and office where he worked in order to find out all sources of his relations to the case to serve as necessary information for the concerned authority to search for Mr Sombath Somphone.

From the intense investigation and information collection of the police responsible for solving the case and collaboration with his family, relatives, as well as the concerned organisations, we arrived at a preliminary assessment as follows:

1. Until now Mr Sombath Somphone the reported missing person, has not yet been found and no further evidence and information concerning his missing obtained.

2. The authority does not detain him. The Police authority has lent its full cooperation starting from authorising the viewing of the CCTV footage to the conduct of the search and investigation. The instructions from the leadership of the Ministry of Public Security demonstrated its sincerity on the case, contrary to the accusation made by some organisations and groups of bad elements. If the missing of Mr Sombath Somphone really happened, it might be due to personal conflict or business conflict or any other conflicts.

I, therefore, would like to inform the public and organisations on the preliminary result of the investigation on the case. If any person has any information or sources or finds Mr Sombath Somphone, please contact district, provincial or Vientiane police nationwide in order to bring him back to his family safely and to bring the culprit to justice according to the law.