Crime Down in Phnom Penh, Governor Says

Crime in Phnom Penh has dropped during the first six months of 2004 compared to the same period last year, Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema reported Monday.

So far this year, 260 penal crimes, or serious crimes, have been reported, compared to 485 such cases in the first six months of 2003, the governor said.

Those cases included 14 kill­ings and 234 armed robberies, down from the first semester of last year’s 34 killings and 269 armed robberies.

Other penal crimes reported were rape, human trafficking and the sexual abuse of children.

“Penal crime continues to oc­cur in high numbers and [is] much more complicated. We noticed that the activities of armed robbers are very cruel, shooting [motorbike owners] to death to [steal] motorbikes and causing injuries and destroying people’s property in public,” Kep Chuktema said.

City Hall’s report attempted to explain some of the killings, though no evidence was offered.

“Shooting deaths of civil servants, union leaders and foreigners, mostly they were caused by personal conflicts and domestic vio­lence, and some such crimes were used by Cambodian politicians and opposition groups as an excuse to put blame on the gov­ern­ment and incite assemblies for demonstrations and public for­ums,” according to the report.

As for minor crimes, or misdemeanors, the governor said that 167 had been reported, down from 181 the first six months of last year.

Deputy Municipal Police Chief Heng Pov, reached by telephone, de­clined to clarify the report, saying he was busy.

The report also stated that police shut 10 illegal gambling houses, 35 brothels and 29 illegal international telephone operations.

In December, City Hall reported that criminal activity in Phnom Penh surged in 2003.

Last month, around the time of a spate of shootings on busy Phnom Penh streets, 752 monks and students petitioned Kep Chuktema, urging him to im­prove security in the capital.

Municipal Penal Police Chief Reach Sokhon acknowledged the spike in crime at the time and promised to increase his officers’ hours of patrol.



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