Investigation Update: Yet more Backtracking

sombath-somphone-response-to-senate-20140616-1-1In a 21 May 2014 letter to the Honorable John Hogg, President of the Australian Senate, and in response to a motion passed by the Australian Senate, Phoumma Khammanichanh, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, states:

…since the incident unfolded the authorities concerned have conducted a series of thorough investigation and collected some information that may be relevant to the missing Mr. Sombath Somphone. …At present, the authorities concerned are continuing to seriously carry on the investigation. (Emphasis added)

The letter also asserts:

The CCTV footage obtained from the police and widely posted on the internet by Mr. Sombath’s wife, as a matter of fact, did not give any clear picture of who or what is what therein. Consequently, no one could confirm what really happened for all the persons and vehicles seen in the footage were unclear at all. Particularly Mr. Sombath himself could not be precisely identified. Therefore, many people can not but keep wondering if Mr. Sombath did actually disappear in the place captured by the CCTV. (Emphasis added)

This is not, however, what was reported to a group of Asean Parliamentarians during their visit to Vientiane on 16 January 2013.

We noted discrepancies in our hosts’ accounts of the circumstances of the abduction. Most of the officials we met said that there was no evidence that Sombath got into the pickup truck that appeared in the CCTV footage after his jeep was stopped. Yet Mr. Sakayane Sisouvong, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Sombath voluntarily boarded that vehicle. (Emphasis added) 

Sombath-exits-JeepNor what was stated by Yong Chanthalangsy, Permanent Representative of the Lao PDR to the UN in Geneva, as reported in the Vientiane Times

At 6 pm the traffic police stopped Mr Sombath’s jeep in order to check his driving licence and car documents as normal procedures. Being stopped, Mr Sombath walked out from his car to present his documents to the police. Contrary to the information the UN Special Procedures received, Mr Sombath was not taken by the police to the police post. After the police checked the documents they returned them to Mr Sombath and continued their duty of checking other vehicles. (Emphasis added)

Nor does it match a government statement reported in the KPL Lao News Agency just four days after Sombath’s abduction on 19 December 2012.

According to the CCTV footage, at 6:00 pm the traffic police stopped the Jeep of Mr Sombath in order to check for driving license and car documents as normal procedures. Being stopped, Mr Sombath walked out from his car to the police to present documents. After the police had checked the documents they returned them to Mr Sombath and continued their duty of checking other cars. (Emphasis added)

Further, the most recent statement makes no mention of the original CCTV footage. Nor, even after 18 months of ‘serious’ and ‘thorough’ investigation, are any alternative explanations offered.

 

 

0 Replies to “Investigation Update: Yet more Backtracking”

  1. Why is there no mention of the offers of outside agencies to clarify the cctv footage in order to read licence plates and in general make things more recognizable? This was rejected by the Lao Government, even though they do not appear to have the ability to do this.

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