A member of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Personal Bodyguard Unit (PMBU) was arrested Wednesday for firing his weapon into the air after leaving a dance club in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district in the early morning, police said.
Pong Toek commune police chief Vorn Saroeun said that PMBU Lieutenant Colonel Bun Chanpiseth, 31, shot a handgun above his head several times after departing at 4:30 a.m. from a night of drinking at the club.
Police followed and arrested Lt. Col. Chanpiseth after he drove away from the scene of the shooting, Mr. Saroeun said.
“Police found a gun and some documents to prove that he works for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit,” Mr. Saroeun said.
Dangkao district police chief Yim Sarann said that Lt. Col. Chanpiseth was sent by commune police to his district police offices for questioning.
Mr. Sarann confirmed that Lt. Col. Chanpiseth is a “soldier” in the PMBU but said that he did not know other details about his activities before he was arrested.
Lt. Col. Chanpiseth’s father, Bun Chan, a district councilor in Dangkao, claimed that his son fired his pistol in the air twice outside the nightclub in an effort to warn off two “gangsters” who were following him.
“My son shot twice in the air when he saw two men on one motorcycle following him—they were gangsters and he was afraid of them,” Mr. Chan said.
Mr. Chan said that senior members of Mr. Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit are “negotiating” with police for his son’s release without charge.
PMBU Commander General Hing Bunheang said he did not know anything about Lt. Col. Chanpiseth’s arrest, as he was busy at Preah Vihear temple on the Thai border.
The PMBU is a well-trained and equipped secretive paramilitary unit that answers directly to Mr. Hun Sen. Participants at a small teachers’ rally in Phnom Penh earlier this month wrestled a pistol from a man in plain clothes standing close to rally organizers and opposition party leaders who was later confirmed to be an undercover member of the PMBU.