Lawyer Fleeing Hit-and Run Shoots Passerby, Police Say

A lawyer allegedly shot and in-jured a passerby in an exchange of gunfire with police, who chased him after a hit-and-run crash that left a man injured in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, according to a police report obtained Thursday.

The report claimed that lawyer Nou Chantha, 53, on Wednesday night crashed his Toyota Lexus into Prum Rikreay, 32, who was driving his three-wheeled motorbike in the opposite direction on Nation-al Road 1 in Niroth commune and broke his left leg.

Police officers representing multiple districts chased Nou Chan-tha, who while fleeing the scene of the accident shot his Glock 9 mm pistol at authorities but missed, hitting 21-year-old Men Pisith in the stomach as he rode by on his bicycle, according to the police report.

“The accident occurred because the car’s driver didn’t stick to the right side of the road,” the report said, adding, “After the accident, the vehicle fled the scene.”

“Soon after, authorities shot two bullets at the Lexus’s tire so that the car could be stopped,” it continued.

The report said police saw Nou Chantha stepping out of his car with a bullet wound in his right calf.

“It was suspected that it was an accidental, self-induced discharge because the car showed no signs of bullets coming through from the outside,” the police report continued, adding that the investigation would continue.

Municipal traffic police chief Tin Prasoer said he was unaware of the case and referred questions to his deputy police chief, Pen Khun. Pen Khun confirmed the accident and said that the Lexus was in his custody. He also noted that Nou Chan-tha was not under arrest, but de-clined to say why. Nou Chantha could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Chamkar Mon district police chief Ouch Sokhon said that further investigations were needed before an arrest can be made.

Chiv Songhak, president of the Cambodia Bar Association, blamed an “armed group” wearing civilian clothes for shooting Nou Chantha, but he didn’t say whether it was the police. Chiv Songhak said that Nou Chantha had fled the scene only to “find the safe place.”

Nou Chantha was admitted to Calmette Hospital, Chiv Songhak said, adding that there is no way Nou Chantha should be arrested.

“They shot him: He is the victim. He should not be arrested; he should sue the shooter,” the bar president said.

Nou Chantha, a former military court judge, is known for defending former disgraced Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov and the late Khmer Rouge commander Sam Bith.

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