Village chiefs controlling the countryside for Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) like their blood-sports. A fortnight ago in rural Battambang, Reth Savoeun was invited to go 'fishing' with the chief of police in his rural commune of Chi Vaing. The police chief returned but Reth Savoeun, a recruiter for opposition leader Sam Rainsy, did not. His wife looked all over for him. The next day she found his body inside a bamboo fish trap partially submerged in a swamp. He had been shot in the head. Three days later in the Ra Thmei village in the province of Pursat, a deputy village chief asked Ben Yeurn to go 'hunting'. Ben Yeurn, also an activist for the Sam Rainsy Party, did not return either. He was shot and killed in the forest four kilometres from his house. His wife and family were told to deny all links to the Sam Rainsy Party. Human rights workers and opposition political sources describe both deaths as 'classic' examples of the most extreme form of intimidation used by the CPP's extensive rural network to ensure success during last Sunday's polls. Both deaths are under investigation by United Nations human rights officers working for a new political violence unit and are expected to be included soon in an official and highly sensitive list of killings suspected of having political involvement. At present, 28 deaths since May 20 are on the list - all but four as 'under investigation', a reflection of a highly cautious approach to a crime that is easy to allege and hard to prove. All four listed as 'likely political' are opposition officials. The election is over, the leaders are squabbling and still the killing continues. As a setting Mekong sun slid behind bruised and purple monsoon skies over Phnom Penh last night, reports reached the capital of the shootings of five opposition figures in the provinces. It is not a toll that seems to overly trouble many foreign observers and senior diplomats, who talk about a 'body count' that falls well within 'Cambodian conditions' - that is, a shattered society in which extreme violence is tragically common. 'This is Cambodia,' one veteran Asian diplomat said. 'If you have an election, there will always be blood.' But despite the cynicism and lethargy, new fears are mounting that any new government - almost certain to be dominated by Mr Hun Sen - will show little will to tackle the crimes seriously. Diplomats and human rights workers say there is little chance of prosecutions despite the best efforts of the opposition and UN. They will simply be added to an ever-expanding pile of unsolved political deaths, they fear. The bloody heap dates back to the last election. After a campaign far more bloody than this one in which more than 100 Vietnamese alone were killed, not one prosecution has ever been brought. That unsullied record has continued through the grenade attack on a Sam Rainsy rally in March last year that left 19 people dead, including the bodyguard who threw himself over Mr Rainsy to protect him. And then there was the coup in July in which Mr Hun Sen pushed Prince Norodom Ranariddh and his Funcinpec Party from their power-sharing agreement. An estimated 80 to 100 party officials, security staff and followers were killed in the weeks that followed. And despite a raft of international efforts, still no prosecutions. The National Police Chief Hok Lundy was among those linked to the shooting of Hor Sok, one of Prince Ranariddh's Interior Ministry officials. Thomas Hammarberg, UN special human rights envoy to Cambodia, shrugs his shoulders as he acknowledges the lack of progress but still demands action. 'We very sincerely hope the new government will have a human rights agenda,' he says. 'It's getting late, but it is our view that it is still possible to have serious investigations. 'If there are culprits then they should be arrested and charged.' Mr Hammarberg is trying to organise international investigative assistance, saying nothing is more important in ending Cambodia's culture of 'impunity' than a few strong, swift - and legal - prosecutions. It is a culture in which the lines between heavily armed police and military units are blurred. Payment is often late and few regulations govern the use of their firearms either on duty or in karaoke bars and restaurant car parks in the after-hours. 'The combination of alcohol, weapons and evenings is not a good one,' Mr Hammarberg said. 'Impunity is the most serious symptom of a weak justice system . . . and in Cambodia, the justice system is flawed and partially corrupt.' Mr Hammarberg admits to being unsure of the degree of political will. He perhaps has good reason. Mr Hun Sen has made his views on the recent killings clear. Saying he wanted a quiet election, he added recently: 'During the election campaign if a member of a political party is shot they say it's a political murder even though it was robbers or thieves. 'If it was political violence they wouldn't kill the low level people. They would go after the top leaders - that would be political violence.' The widely feared police chief Hok Lundy - a figure expected to rise should Mr Hun Sen's present coalition attempt prevail - has gone further, much to the outrage of a nervous opposition. Not one of the 69 murders in Phnom Penh over last few weeks has been political, he declared. 'It's just impossible for him to say this,' said one rights worker familiar with local police. 'His police have no ability to conduct the most simple investigation even if they wanted to. 'If it's a murder they simply find a suspect and torture him until he confesses. A report, if there is one, will be written by hand in a few lines on an A4 sheet.' Evidence of sloppy handling of the few political cases that have been investigated by local police is not hard to find. Take the case of Kith Kim, a Funcinpec registration observer shot dead in an apparent ambush as he neared his rice field in rural Kampong Thom. UN reports state police found a cartridge at the scene from either an AR-15 or M-16 rifle. Only six such weapons exist in the nearby village, all in the houses of local officials. Eleven days after the killing, none had been interviewed or their weapons checked but police say information has come to light that somehow his death was connected to 'black magic'. Then there is the killing of Funcinpec election observer Thong Sophal, also in Kampong Thom in central Cambodia. After being missing for several days, his body turned up on a roadside. Photographs in local papers suggested the most grotesque of mutilations. His eyes had been gouged out, fingers were missing and so was all the flesh on his legs, down from his upper thighs, exposing naked bone all the way to his toes. Local police pointed to an empty vial of pesticide found nearby, walked away and wrote it all off as 'suicide'.