Bundith Arrested in Phnom Penh After Turning Himself In

Chhouk Bundith, the former governor of Svay Rieng province’s Bavet City who shot three garment workers in 2012, turned himself in to police in Phnom Penh on Saturday morning after more than two years on the run, according to National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith.

“He surrendered to the Phnom Penh police commissariat and now we sent him to the Svay Rieng prosecutor to implement the procedure of the court,” Lieutenant General Chantharith said. 

Lt. Gen. Chantharith said that upon turning himself in at the municipal police headquarters, Mr. Bundith immediately confessed to shooting the three workers and was sent to the Svay Rieng Provincial Court in police custody. He said the disgraced ex-governor would be held at the provincial prison while court officials proceeded with his case.

The arrest of Mr. Bundith comes just over a week after the National Police released a video in which Lt. Gen. Chantharith denied that authorities had been negligent in locating him, and announced that he had been placed on Interpol’s list of most-wanted persons in March.

On Saturday, the spokesman said that the video likely encouraged Mr. Bundith to turn himself in.

“He knows that we take all the measures and we are committed to arresting him,” Lt. Gen. Chantharith said. “We also requested…the red notice from the Interpol headquarters.”

“So maybe he thinks that maybe if he hides himself, it [is] like he is in the prison for life,” he said.

Mr. Bundith, who injured Nuth Sokhorn, Bun Chenda and Keo Nea when he shot into a crowd of garment workers during a protest at a special economic zone in Bavet City in February 2012, was initially charged with “unintentional violence” in April that year. In December 2012, the charge was dropped without explanation.

With public interest in the case growing, the Appeal Court later launched a re-investigation into the shooting, eventually leading to Mr. Bundith being sentenced to 18 months in prison in June 2013.

But the former governor had gone into hiding before the decision was handed down and he was never apprehended. At the time, officials speculated that he might have fled the country through an “unofficial” border crossing.

Lt. Gen. Chantharith said that while Mr. Bundith did not tell police where he had been hiding for the past two years, a special team assigned to his case had been tracking his movements closely.

“We have information that…he crossed the border to Vietnam, and sometimes we heard he…came back [to Cambodia] for a few hours, a few days.”

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