Police Chief Hits Military Police Officers at Cremation Site

Phnom Penh police chief Chuon Sovann struck two military police officers guarding the late King Father Nor­odom Sihanouk’s cremation site on Sunday after they al­lowed a group of elderly mourners to enter a restricted area within the complex, according to a military police spokesman.

“The reason the military policemen were hit and punched was because of a misunderstanding while they were on duty. And Lieu­tenant General Chuon Sovann was grumpy,” said national military po­lice spokesman Colonel Kheng Tito. “[The two military police officers] were hit with an Icom [2-way radio] af­ter three of our officers couldn’t stop villagers from entering the site to pay their re­spects at the late King Father’s cremation site,” he added.

According to a military police officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, Lt. Gen. Sovann first struck one of the military police officers on the neck before ordering mu­nicipal police officers to handcuff a second officer.

Noticing the fracas, Vong Bun­na, the military police captain on duty, then confronted Mr. Sovann and told him that the military po­lice had their own commander to take orders from.

In response, Lt. Gen. Sovann turned and hit Mr. Bunna in the ribs three times before a group of nearby military police of­ficers intervened.

“Chuon Sovann used his power to enact violence against our military forces who were on duty,” the military police officer said.

According to another military po­lice officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the two military police officers saw that about 10 el­derly people in the crowd around Veal Mean—the park in front of the National Mu­seum—were visibly short of breath, so allowed them behind the barricades to relax in order to catch their breath.

Mr. Bunna and the military po­lice officer who was struck by Mr. Sovan will wait until the late King Fa­ther’s cremation is over to de­cide whether or not to file an official complaint against Lt. Gen. Sovann, Col. Tito said.

Lt. Gen. Sovann could not be reached for comment, and his deputy, Brigadier Gen­eral Chuon Narin, declined to comment.

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