Chea Sim Makes Apology, Offers to Pay Bar

CPP President Chea Sim apologized and offered compensation to the family whose bar his son allegedly shot up last weekend in Sihanoukville, his cabinet chief said Monday.

“He is the father. He is part responsible for the son,” said Oum Sarith, head of Chea Sim’s cabinet.

Representatives for Chea Sim were sent to Sihanoukville on Sunday to inquire about the shooting that police there said involved Chea Sim’s son, Chea Tea.

According to Sihanoukville deputy police chiefs, Chea Tea and a group of bodyguards fired multiple rounds from automatic weapons and caused major damage to the Lucky Beer Garden on Aug 29, after the visitors had an argument with the bar’s owner. No one was injured, police said.

Chea Sim’s representatives spoke Sunday with bar owner Lim Bun and “fully arranged for compensation,” but the amount was unclear, Oum Sarith said.

Sihanoukville deputy police chief Tak Vanna said Monday he was aware of the “personal delegation” sent to negotiate with Lim Bun and characterized the matter as “resolved.” Sihanoukville police said last week that Lim Bun did not file a complaint because he was afraid for his personal safety.

After the shooting, Chea Tea was brought back to Phnom Penh but has not been arrested. Oum Sarith said it is now “up to the proper authorities.”

The case comes just weeks after Nhim Pisey, a nephew of Prime Minister Hun Sen, was arrested for discharging a gun and injuring two people outside the Manhattan Club in Phnom Penh. He was jailed for a time but has since been released.

The cases raised the ire of one human rights proponent, who continually cites a “culture of impunity” here that allows officials and their relatives to commit crimes without prosecution.

Kek Galabru, president of the Licadho human rights group, said compensation is no substitute for a legal arrest. “This happens all the time. The perpetrator pays the family of the victim, and the story is finished,” she said.

“This is the definition of impunity. It only opens the door for the perpetrator to do it again. The law is for everyone, even if you are a prime minister or a party president’s son.”

Although he was scheduled to appear Monday with Kek Gala­bru at a Senate seminar on human rights, Chea Sim, who also serves as Senate president, canceled for health reasons. He departs today for what Oum Sarith said is a routine medical checkup in Vietnam.

(Reporting by Phann Ana, Im Sophea, Debra Boyce and Kelly McEvers)




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