Justice Ministry Ordered New Inquiry Into Bundith

The Justice Ministry ordered the Court of Appeal to reinvestigate the involvement of former Bavet City governor Chhouk Bundith in the shooting of three female garment workers in February last year, an official at the ministry said.

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana wrote a letter in December to Ouk Savuth, the Appeal Court’s prosecutor general, asking him to reinvestigate the case, said Sam Pracheameanith, spokesman for the Justice Ministry.

“The justice minister sent the letter to the Appeal Court to inspect this case again. He wants the Appeal Court to find more justice and to conduct a thorough investigation,” Mr. Pracheameanith said.

Eyewitnesses to the shooting outside a shoe factory reported that Mr. Bundith opened fire into a crowd of female protesters at a special economic zone in Svay Rieng province.

Mr. Bundith’s involvement was later confirmed by a Ministry of Interior investigation.

Despite that evidence, the Svay Rieng provincial court dropped charges against Mr. Bundith in December, while a Bavet City police officer, Sar Chantha, was charged in August with causing unintentional injuries. Mr. Bundith has never been arrested and his whereabouts are currently unknown.

Mr. Savuth of the Appeal Court filed an appeal against the dropping of Mr. Bundith’s charges on December 21, and a hearing on the case will be held after the funeral of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk ends on February 4.

“They [the Appeal Court] will hear the case after [King Father Norodom Sihanouk’s] funeral day,” Mr. Savuth said.

The Interior Ministry has also sought to understand why Mr. Chantha was charged by the provincial court, said Pen Vibol, deputy chief of the personnel department at the ministry, explaining why Mr. Chantha was summoned for questioning at the ministry last week.

Mr. Chantha has repeatedly denied he is responsible for the shooting.

“We questioned Sar Chantha because we did not understand why the court had charged him,” Mr. Vibol said. “We are not interfering with any decisions in the court system.”

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