Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday held a preliminary hearing for a one-star general accused of shooting to death a 19-year-old student and will send him to Prey Sar prison pending an investigation, a court official said.
General Heng Chamroeun, deputy cabinet chief at the Ministry of Defense, has been accused of shooting to death Wat Koh High School student Chea Samnang on Wednesday night, officials said.
The court, however, has not charged Heng Chamroeun with killing the student and is seeking more information on the case, Yet Chakrya, deputy prosecutor for the municipal court, said on Sunday.
Officials said the general could be charged with intentionally killing Chea Samnang.
Previously, officials reported that the killing occurred after the general’s son, 19-year-old Heng Sovath, had a fight with the Chea Samnang. Both teen-agers were classmates at the high school, police said.
Heng Chamroeun, who released a statement on the killing, said he shot Chea Samnang twice in order to defend his son, who was being chased and beaten by the victim. “I pulled my gun and shot two times to stop him, but accidentally one bullet hit his head,” Heng Chamroeun said in the statement.
Military police took the general into custody almost immediately after the shooting.
Incidents of high ranking military officials committing illegal acts are not uncommon.
In 1999, an RCAF general was accused of destroying houses in Kompong Speu province over a land dispute.
In another 1999 case, a general was prohibited from entering Singapore because he brought a pistol into the city-state.
There were approximately 3,000 generals in Cambodia’s army in 1993. That number was reduced to about 200 in 1998 after donors pressed for a reduction, according to The Associated Press. There are now about 380 officers carrying the rank of general, according to the AP.