Police Guns to Be Tested After Civilian Shootings

As part of the investigation into the shooting of bystanders and unarmed protesters in Stung Meanchey two weeks ago, the weapons used by police officers at the protest will be collected and compared to the bullets extracted from victims’ bodies, municipal police chief Chuon Sovann said Wednesday.

“We have written a letter to National Police to confiscate weapons [from police] in each district who worked [at the protest], to analyze and compare them with the bullets that we got from the hospital,” Mr. Sovann said.

“It will take a lot of time for the bullets to be tested…to find justice for the people and authorities and to see whether or not our police, without orders, had injured people,” he said.

Mr. Sovann led the November 12 police operation to suppress the garment factory protest, which left one bystander dead, another man paralyzed and several others injured by police bullets.

Videos taken at the scene of the protest and posted on social media websites clearly show a number of police officers firing indiscriminately into the crowd of protesters.

Mr. Sovann, however, said that, despite witnesses, photographs and video footage clearly showing police officers shooting at protesters, “there have not been any clues that prove the guns [fired by police] were pointed at the demonstrators.”

A lawsuit has been lodged accusing Mr. Sovann of responsibility for the shooting and beating of protesters and bystanders by officers under his command.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders’ Project, said he was skeptical of a probe in which police investigate themselves. “If it is not independent, it’s hard to know if it will work,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Lauren Crothers)

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