Cambodia Calls for Investigation into Border Shooting

The Foreign Ministry on Friday called on Thai authorities to investigate alleged “irregularities” surrounding the shooting death of a Cambodian citizen near the Thai border last week, officials said.

Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday that the ministry had sent a note to its Thai counterpart on Friday calling for an investigation into the killing of Seng Ratanak, 25, who was shot as he tried to cross the border back into Cambodia.

Thai police reportedly exchanged fire with Mr Ratanak and Hong Heang, 26, both from Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet City, after the pair allegedly attempted to commit a robbery across the border in Sa Kaeo province’s Aranyaprathet district, Cambodian officials said.

In an e-mail Friday, Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Mr Ratanak and another man were spotted trying to steal a motorcycle. Police then pursued the two men, who opened fire as they tried to flee, he said.

“While trying to escape from the scene, [Mr Ratanak] shot at the police in pursuit. The police was compelled to fire back in self-defense,” Mr Thani said.

But Mr Kuong said there were “irregularities” surrounding the death of Mr Ratanak, whose body was found lying alongside an AK-47 assault rifle.

“Is it believable that Thai police weren’t injured in the shootout if there was an exchange of fire?” he said.

Mr Kuong said he believed the rifle could have been placed on Mr Ratanak’s body to implicate him in the alleged robbery. The ministry has asked a Cambodian consul in Sa Kaeo province to lodge a complaint with the Thai courts, Mr Kuong said.

Dy Phan, director of the Northwest RCAF Cambodian-Thai border relations office, said he had asked police to find Mr Ratanak’s family so that his body could be picked up. However, the body has not yet been claimed, he said.

Mr Phan said he thought it was suspicious that Mr Ratanak had supposedly been able to carry such a large rifle across the border without any apparent difficulty.

In response to questions regarding the weapon found with the victim, Thai Ministry spokesman Mr Thani said authorities had no information on the subject.

(Additional reporting by Ian Williamson)



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