Ministry of Interior Requested to Further Investigate SEZ Shooting

The Ministry of Justice has instructed the Ministry of Interior to investigate a Bavet City police officer’s alleged involvement in a shooting that left three women seriously injured during a violent protest outside a factory last year.

Pen Vibol, deputy chief of the National Police’s personnel department, said the Ministry of Interior will write a report on Bavet City penal section chief Sar Chantha’s alleged involvement in a February 20 shooting, and it will be sent to the Ministry of Justice.

Mr. Vibol questioned Mr. Chantha on Monday over his alleged role.

“The Ministry of Justice sent a letter to the Ministry of Interior to investigate on Sar Chantha,” Mr. Vibol said. “We just called Sar Chantha to make a report on the involvement since the [Svay Rieng provincial] court had charged him with causing unintentional injuries and we will send this back to the Ministry of Justice.”

Mr. Vibol said that it was “normal” for the ministry to investigate when its officers have been charged with a crime, but declined to comment on why the Justice Ministry had stepped in.

“It is normal that when the official under an institution have been charged by the court, they would need to notify those in the institution to know about the case,” he said.

Justice Ministry officials could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Chantha was charged with causing unintentional injuries in August for his alleged role in a triple shooting at a Bavet City special economic zone on February 20, directly contradicting eyewitnesses who reported seeing then-Bavet City governor Chhouk Bundith open fire into a crowd of protesters. Mr. Bundith’s involvement was later confirmed by an investigation carried out by the Ministry of Interior.

However, the Svay Rieng Provincial Court dropped all charges against Mr. Bundith in early December, despite Interior Minister Sar Kheng publicly announcing in March that Mr. Bundith was the sole suspect in the shooting.

Mr. Chantha said yesterday that he had filed an appeal last week against his charges.

“I appealed against this after I received the verdict about four or five days ago because I am not involved with what they charged me with,” Mr. Chantha said.

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