WORKING AS JOURNALISTS IN CAMBODIA, we knew that the FBI agents were in town, but at the time we had only a shadowy idea of what they were doing.
The agents did not go out at night as far as we knew, and the embassy had no comments on their activities. We were, of course, eagerly awaiting their results, but while we were waiting, they simply disappeared. It took us the better part of the next three years to piece together what happened.
On May 15, the agents met several of their Cambodian counterparts at the Ly Lay restaurant on dusty Kampuchea Krom Boulevard. Dried shark fins at $50 each stood in glass cases. Chinese lanterns and attentive waiters hung over crimson-draped tables.
It was a special occasion: The FBI was packing up. By agreement with Ambassador Quinn, Cambodian investigators would carry on. The agents had gathered extensive evidence, enough to link Hun Sen or, at the very least, the head of his bodyguard force—a man who took orders directly from Hun Sen—to the attack. Over dinner, Hoffman and Nicoletti offered advice to the Cambodian police officials, led by General Teng Savong, about how they should handle their own ongoing investigation.[n]
Nicoletti, who had previously noted that the Cambodian team had come up with nothing, told them that they must blame the military units whose chief had said they were ordered out to the park by Hun Sen’s cabinet. He told General Savong that Hun Sen’s bodyguards had let the throwers escape. You have to mention it in your report, Nicoletti told him.[n]
“What can I say?” Savong whispered. “It would be too dangerous.”
Hoffman and Taister left Cambodia the next day, Nicoletti soon after. But it had become obvious that the agents were closing in, and word was spreading to the street and to the newspapers. In Hun Sen’s inner circle, the tension was showing.
“Why do they accuse us without any basic evidence? We are innocent people, we were not involved in that attack,” the bodyguard chief, General Hing Bun Heang, raged to a reporter from The Phnom Penh Post.[s] “Publish this: Tell them that I want to kill them…publish it, say that I, chief of the bodyguards, have said this. I want to kill…I am so angry.”