Court Investigation of Man Shot Dead at Cockfight Creeps On

The Kompong Cham Provincial Court on Monday questioned the family of a man shot dead in November when police raided a cockfighting match in Tbong Khmum province’s Memot district.

Chhay Oeun, 25, died on November 25 after being hit in the chest with a bullet while watching the cockfight in Memot district’s Chan Moul commune.

Provincial police claimed after the incident that district police had fired warning shots into the air to stop people from fleeing, and that one of the bullets had ricocheted off a tree and hit Chhay Oeun.

But a few days later, six district police officers, including deputy district police chief Chy Lim Heng, were suspended while Tbong Khmum provincial police and the court in neighboring Kompong Cham province launched an investigation into the shooting. Cambodia’s newest province, Tbong Khmum does not yet have its own court.

Deputy prosecutor Riel Sophin said he questioned Chhay Oeun’s father and father-in-law Monday as part of his ongoing investigation.

“We questioned them about the facts and to find evidence,” he said. “The case is being investigated and if we pinpoint any suspects, we will send the case to the investigating judge.”

Mr. Sophin added that he had already interviewed witnesses to the shooting, and would soon summon police officers who participated in the raid.

Provincial police chief Mao Pov said Monday that the six district officers would remain suspended as the court’s investigation continued.

But Mr. Pov, who previously insisted that a ricochet was to blame for Chhay Oeun’s death, turned around and offered a new explanation Monday.

“When police came to crack down, there was a shot from the inside” of the cockfighting ring, he said. “We are in the process of examining the bullets” to determine the types of guns they were fired from.

“If we find out that our police bullet hit him, [the officer] will bear responsibility for his actions.”

Por Chhay, 52, the father of Chhay Oeun, said the slow pace of the investigation into his son’s death was frustrating.

“Why is it taking so long for the court to solve this case?” he said.

“We filed a complaint after his death and the court just summoned us now. I want the court to find justice for me and award 100 million riel [about $25,000] in compensation to support my son’s family.”

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