No Mention of Forests as General’s Son Gets 6 Months for Gun Use

Siem Reap provincial court last week sentenced the son of RCAF Ma­jor General Chea Morn to six months in jail for the illegal use of a weapon, court officials said yesterday.

“The court sentenced [Chea So­phal] to six months in prison when the court found him guilty related to gun use,” provincial court Pro­secutor Ty Sovannthal said, noting that the court handed down the sentence on Thursday.

Mr Sovannthal said the six months began on March 24, the day Mr Sophal turned himself in to police.

Maj Gen Morn, who commands RCAF’s Military Region 4, said last month that he told his son to turn himself in for forest crimes—which he would not elaborate on—amid a nationwide crackdown in illegal logging ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen. In a speech related to illegal logging last month and his firing of then-Forestry Administration Chief Ty Sokhun, Mr Hun Sen said he had also ordered Maj Gen Morn to set an example and turn his son in to the court.

Court officials, however, said they had no evidence to charge the general’s son with forestry crimes and had no plans to do so. The court officials, rather, said they detained Mr Sophal on an outstanding arrest warrant related to his 2007 conviction, in absentia, for stealing a cell phone and illegal weapon use.

When Mr Sophal turned himself in last month he asked for a retrial, which the court granted on April 7.

Presiding Judge Ith Samphas said ye­sterday that the court, during the re­trial, did not even have enough evidence to convict the general’s son with the original crime of robbery, either.

“We dropped the charge of robbery,” the judge said.

According to Judge Samphas, Mr Sophal, who also holds a rank as a police officer, used a gun to “settle” a personal dispute in public.

“He is a policeman, but he used the gun without a permission letter. He violated the rule of law even though he did not shoot or kill anyone,” the judge claimed, without ex­plaining how exactly Mr Sophal used the gun during the incident in 2007.

Contacted yesterday, Maj Gen Morn declined to discuss the details of his son’s case, but said he would accept the sentence.

“I will not appeal this case,” he said.


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