A grandson of retired King Norodom Sihanouk was in stable condition at Calmette Hospital on Monday after being shot early Sunday morning by his friend Chea Tha, a son of Senate and CPP President Chea Sim.
Norodom Sihanouk’s 33-year-old grandson, whom palace officials could only identify by his first name Michel, and Chea Tha, 33, are longtime friends, and the shooting at the Blue Storm nightclub in Sihanoukville was an accident, friends and relatives said.
Michel is a nephew of Prince Norodom Chakrapong and the son of Norodom Sihanouk’s late daughter, Princess Norodom Soriya Roeungsey, palace officials said.
Recently returned from a medical trip to Thailand, Chea Sim visited Michel in the hospital on Monday morning, where Chea Tha has kept vigil at his wounded friend’s bedside, said municipal police Deputy Chief Chea Rotha.
Co-Minister of Interior Prince Norodom Sirivuddh also visited the hospital Monday and spoke with Michel, who confirmed that Chea Tha’s revolver accidentally discharged as they were leaving the nightclub at around 1 am Sunday morning, Chea Rotha said.
The gun was in Chea Tha’s trouser pocket and misfired as he hitched up his trousers to leave the club, Chea Rotha said.
“Chea Tha was not arrested because it was an accident,” Chea Rotha said, adding that she did not know whether the weapon was licensed.
In a letter sent from Beijing on Monday to Chea Sim, Norodom Sihanouk reiterated that both Chea Tha and his grandson were good friends.
“This seriously dangerous incident was not on purpose. I thank Samdech [Chea Sim] for generously helping my grandson for years,” the former King wrote in the letter in which he also expressed praise for the French and Cambodian doctors that are treating his grandson at Calmette Hospital.
The shooting, though this time an apparent accident, is one of several in recent years involving the sons of high-ranking government officials. In August, the Appeals Court cleared Prime Minister Hun Sen’s nephew, Nhim Sophea, of all involvement in the shooting deaths of two passersby after a group of sons from the country’s elite crashed a car, killing another innocent bystander.