Police Officer Arrested for Careless Shooting

An immigration police officer was arrested on Saturday after firing his state-issued handgun nine times into the ground of a mango plantation in Kandal province, officials said on Sunday.

Leng Socheat, 32, an immigration police officer at the Interior Ministry, was arrested by Kien Svay district military police after sporadically shooting his standard-issue Beretta handgun in the district’s Kompong Svay commune, according to a report published on the military police’s website on Sunday.

According to the report, Mr. Socheat’s gun was confiscated along with 15 unused bullets, nine empty shells and his gun holder’s permit.

Deputy district military police commander Seang Vanchhay on Sunday confirmed the incident and the ensuing arrest of Mr. Socheat by his officers.

“He went to the plantation and he tested his handgun. He shot nine rounds into the ground,” Mr. Vanchhay said. No one was injured in the incident, he said, adding that Mr. Socheat had been sent to provincial military police headquarters immediately after his arrest.

Eng Hy, spokesman for the national military police, declined to comment. Neither national police spokesman Kirth Chantharith nor Sok Phal, head of the Interior Ministry’s immigration department, could be reached.

Uk Heisela, chief of investigations at the immigration department, said Mr. Socheat worked as an administrator at the department.

“He got drunk and went shooting,” Major General Heisela said, adding that regardless of the officer’s position and permit to carry a gun, his actions were illegal.

“Even though we have legal possession of weapons, when we shoot them without proper reason…we are acting illegally and have to be held totally accountable before the law,” he said.

“It is not only police, but military police and soldiers as well,” he added.

Maj. Gen. Heisela said he was not sure whether Mr. Socheat would face legal charges but said the department would not intervene on his behalf if he did.

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