One Week on, Shooting Investigation Has Yielded Nothing

One week after police opened fire on civilians during clashes that broke out during an SL Garment Factory protest, killing bystander Eng Sokhom and injuring nine others, arrests have yet to be made on the back of an investigation that victims said appears to be going nowhere.

Rights group Licadho on Tuesday also confirmed that one of the 27-year-old survivors of the November 12 clash is now paralyzed for life after being shot in the spine.

“The Ministry of Interior has created a committee to study and investigate the people who violated [the law] and killed people,” said CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap.

“We are following the law, and when we see a perpetrator commit the crime, they must be punished. The quicker they are arrested, the better it will be.”

Military police spokesman Brigadier General Kheng Tito said the investigation had been impeded by the Water Festival holiday.

“Our authorities will not give up the investigation and we must do the investigation…to see the truth,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Tito said some cases are easier to probe than others, and that he could not say whether this one will wrap up any time soon.

However, victims and their families said that police officials have not been in contact with them to interview them about the shooting.

“We have not seen any authorities come do any investigations” since the clash, said Nget Vong, Eng Sokhom’s 51-year-old widower. No one has been in contact with his family and no interviews have been conducted, he added.

Vong Sophak, the victim’s son, urged the authorities to do more to bring those responsible to justice.

“I regret that the authorities are working very slowly to find the justice for my mother,” he said. “They should find the perpetrator as soon as possible, because it has been a few days already and they have not started to do anything yet.”

Seng Seth, a 23-year-old SL worker who was shot in the hand, said if the government was serious about investigating the incident, it would have interviewed him by now to understand his version of the events.

Naly Pilorge, director of Licadho, on Tuesday confirmed that one shooting victim will be paralyzed for life, while another will take at least five months to recover from abdominal injuries caused by a bullet.

She said Licadho is “outraged that [there has been] no investigation—or prosecution of any policeman or the Phnom Penh police commissioner—into the November 12 clashes that led to the killing of an innocent woman and serious injuries including bullet wounds of at least nine others.”

“Instead, two boys who were unarmed are unjustly charged and lingering in prison since last week.”

Ms. Pilorge said lawyers for the teenagers—14-year-old Meas Non and 17-year-old Vanny Vanan, charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court with intentional acts of violence, damage to public property, insulting public officials and the obstruction of public officials—will request bail Wednesday.

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