Officials: Soldiers Accused in Kampot Shooting Won’t Cooperate

Soldiers who opened fire on a tractor driver and another man Wednesday in Kampot province have refused police requests to clarify the circumstances of the shooting, officials said Monday.  

Two RCAF soldiers, a military police officer and a Forestry Ad­ministration official opened fire Dec 3 in Chhuk district’s Tra­paing Phlaing commune on a tractor after its driver and another passenger, suspected of illegally clearing land, apparently refused to obey a command to halt, authorities claimed. A bullet allegedly grazed the head of the tractor driver, Tem Ra, 20, during the shooting.

Chhuk district police chief Prom Veasna said Tem Ra and his brother, Prak Heng, 25, the passenger, have filed a complaint against the soldiers and the For­est­ry Administration official for allegedly attempting to kill them.

Kampot deputy provincial police chief In Chiva said Mon­day that officers have asked the soldiers to provide details of the shooting, but Boo Moo, an RCAF soldier with Brigade 70, Yim Porn, an RCAF soldier with Brigade 31, and Pen Neang, a commune military police officer, have refused to cooperate.

“We will ask military police to take action because [the RCAF soldiers and the military police] refused to clarify about the shooting,” said In Chiva, who claimed the soldiers shot out the tractor tires and then tried to shoot the driver in the head.

In Chiva also said Monday that he is preparing a letter to the Forestry Administration to ask them to clarify the events of the shooting.

Provincial Forestry Administra­tion Director Om Mactheary said he had not yet heard from the police regarding the shooting. He added that his officials would only open fire to prevent deforestation.

“We are not hurting villagers, but helping them,” he said.

Mao Sophan, commander of Brigade 70, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Prak Heng said Monday that he and his brother are seeking $40,000 in compensation for damage to the tractor and for Tem Ra’s medical expenses. Tem Ra, who was taken to the hospital after the shooting, does not seem to be improving after a bullet grazed the left side of his head, Prak Heng added.

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