King’s Grandson Hospitalized After Being Shot

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.

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