Interior Official’s Son Acquitted in Policeman’s Killing

Two men, including the son of a senior Interior Ministry official, were acquitted November 7 of charges they conspired to kill a military police officer at a party in Phnom Penh earlier this year, court officials said November 9.

Pich Moniroth, son of land border police department director Pich Chivan, and Ny Chinit were acquitted in absentia.

Two other defendants, Chey Vutha and Vuth Sidara were also sentenced in absentia to five years probation for the unintentional killing of Vai Pheakdei, who was fatally shot in the neck in February, Judge Chhay Kong said.

Chhay Kong said the four had been freed on bail less than a month after their arrests in March. He declined to discuss the case further.

Deputy Prosecutor Plang Sophal said Friday that Chey Vutha and Vuth Sidara had sought to disarm Vai Pheakdei in an alcohol-fueled tussle at the Chamkar Mon district party.

“They were drunk. Vai Pheakdei pointed a gun at the two people for fun,” he said. “Chey Vutha and Vutha Sidara fought to grab the gun and it exploded.”

The two acquitted men had not been involved, he said

“Pich Moniroth and Ny Chinit didn’t grab [the gun],” he added

Relatives of Vai Pheakdei could not be contacted for comment on the verdicts November 9.

Both Pich Chivan and National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha declined to comment

“I don’t have anything to say if the court says something,” Sao Sokha said.

Chan Soveth, chief monitor for the rights group Adhoc, said that rights workers had had difficulty investigating the case from beginning to end due to its connection to a high-ranking official.

“The case was always a secret,” he said.

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