Army Major Charged Over Shooting of Boy, 12

An army major was charged with unintentional violence and the illegal use of a weapon by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday following his arrest Saturday for accidentally shooting a 12-year-old boy while drunk, a court official said.

“I charged the offender this morning and he is now in pretrial detention at Prey Sar prison,” said Um Sopheak, a deputy prosecutor at the court.

Mr. Sopheak said he charged Pol Ponleu, 43, a major in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ Brigade 70, with causing involuntary bodily harm under Article 236 of the Criminal Code—which carries a prison term of up to two years—and with the illegal use of a weapon under Article 20 of the Law on Weapons and Explosives Control.

Mr. Sopheak said the weapons charge was due to Mr. Ponleu not having a license for the revolver he is accused of firing on Saturday.

An inebriated Mr. Ponleu was arrested by security guards in Pur Senchey district’s Trapaing Krasaing commune on Saturday evening after accidentally shooting Tol Chantha, 12, in the right thigh while attempting to clear debris from the barrel of his handgun by discharging a live round into the ground, according to police.

Tol Chantha’s father, Lang Chanthol, 36, said that an official at the municipal court called him Tuesday afternoon and asked him to come to the courthouse to negotiate with Mr. Ponleu.

“I received $2,000 in compensation from Pol Ponleu,” Mr. Chanthol said, declining to name the court official who brokered the deal.

“The court official asked me to withdraw the complaint against Pol Ponleu because he will not be found guilty of shooting and wounding, but will still be found guilty of using an illegal weapon,” he said.

Mr. Chanthol said Mr. Ponleu did not apologize for shooting his son, who is still recovering at the National Pediatric Hospital, where the bullet was surgically removed from his leg.

“The major did not apologize to me but before I left,” he said. “He just hung his head.”

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