Officer on the Run After Spat About Phone

Phnom Penh military police are searching for a military officer after he discharged his pistol into the air during an argument over a mobile phone, police said on Wednesday.

Kong Bros, a 37-year-old officer in the elite Brigade 911, fired one shot during a scuffle with 20-year-old Sok Chean and two of Mr. Chean’s friends on Tuesday evening over Mr. Chean’s request for a refund for a Nokia phone he had purchased from Mr. Bros’ wife’s shop, according to Choam Chao commune police chief Theng Kosal.

Mr. Chean had gone to the Lyza phone shop in Pur Senchey district’s Choam Chao commune on Tuesday to ask for a new battery for a Nokia 108 phone he had purchased there on Sunday, according to the commune police chief.

The police chief said that after 15 minutes of discussion with Mr. Bros’ wife, Mr. Chean changed his mind and demanded a new phone, claiming the one he had been sold had already been used and was defective.

When Mr. Bros arrived at the shop, he, too, negotiated with the men but was rebuffed, according to Mr. Kosal.

“After both sides disagreed with each other, the military officer took his gun and shot once in the air, and now the military police are looking for him,” Mr. Kosal said, adding that the three men had also fled after the shooting but had returned after police arrived.

Mr. Bros’ wife, who gave her name only as “Lyza,” blamed Mr. Chean and his friends for initiating the fight and not accepting a new battery.

“They were all drunk. When my husband came home they cursed him and then attacked him,” Ms. Lyza said.

“They took my husband’s gun, but he took it back. The three men tried to drag him to the ground and punch him, but my husband shot at the sky. If he had not shot, they wouldn’t have stopped beating him,” she said.

Military police district commander Chim Rithy declined to comment on the incident, while officials from Brigade 911 could not be reached. The brigade has long been the target of criticism from human rights groups for alleged rights abuses and participated in the deadly 2014 suppression of labor demonstrations in Phnom Penh.

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