The Tbong Khmum Provincial Court has not issued an arrest warrant for the nephew of a senior Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) general despite police naming him as the suspect in the shooting of another man more than five months ago, according to officials and rights workers.
Ya Romey, 27, the wife of shooting victim El Isan, 43, said Wednesday that her husband went to the home of Khut Sophorn, the nephew of General Kun Kim, a deputy RCAF commander-in-chief, on October 3 to collect $500 owed to them for filling in some land for Mr. Sophorn.
When she called her husband to ask why he had not returned home, Ms. Romey said, her husband informed her that Mr. Sophorn had refused to pay the $500 and would not allow him to leave.
Ms. Romey said she rushed to the house in Dambe district’s Seda commune to meet her husband and walked inside to find Mr. Sophorn tearing up some of her husband’s money.
“I asked him: ‘You owe me money and now you are tearing up my money? Why?’” she said. “And then [Mr. Sophorn] smashed a glass.”
“We were scared and tried to leave, but Mr. Sophorn grabbed an AK-47 and shot my husband in the leg,” she said.
District police chief Hong Kim Hoeun confirmed that Mr. Sophorn was the suspected shooter.
“There was this case taking place in the district, and two or three days after the shooting, we sent a report to the court,” he said.
“We have not received an arrest warrant from the court yet. It is in hands of the court…and we are waiting for the court’s action.”
Plang Sophal, the deputy provincial prosecutor in charge of the case, said the court did not have enough evidence to issue an arrest warrant.
“We have not arrested [Mr. Sophorn] because we do not have enough evidence yet,” he said. “We cannot just arrest anyone based on a complaint from a plaintiff. We need a full investigation first.”
However, Neang Savath, a provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc who investigated the case, said there was sufficient evidence to make an arrest.
“According to our investigation, the suspect is the nephew of Mr. Kun Kim,” he said. “It is a serious crime, but I don’t understand why [the court] claims they do not have evidence.”
Provincial police chief Mao Pov, who refused to confirm the suspect’s name, insisted that police were still on the case.
“We cannot let him escape the law and our force continues to investigate the case and we sent a report to the court,” he said. “We are looking for the suspect. Do not say that authorities are not taking action.”