Police officials on Wednesday questioned the friend of a man who was shot in the head by security forces near Monivong Bridge in Phnom Penh on Sunday night, following a day of protests and an earlier clash between opposition party protesters and authorities.
The questioning appears to be the first step of an investigation promised by the government into the man’s killing and the shooting of several other people during a confrontation between stone-throwing youths and police and military police, which is under the jurisdiction of the national police, but that is still being conducted in relative secrecy.
Seang Nuth, the 44-year-old sister of victim Mao Sok Chan, 29, said her late brother’s friend, 32-year-old Srey Vichet, was asked to go to the Phsar Doeum Thkov commune police station in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
“They questioned him…about how many people had been [at the bridge],” Ms. Nuth said. “They wanted to know more details about the incident.”
Mao Sok Chan was reportedly a bystander at the blockaded bridge when police, who had been firing tear gas and warning shots, allegedly fired at stone-throwing youths, injuring several and killing the victim.
Military police spokesman Brigadier General Kheng Tito has repeatedly denied that police were even armed with or using live rounds, insisting instead that the gun that killed Mao Sok Chan must have been fired by a civilian. National spokesman Lieutenant Kirth Chantharith has not been reached, despite repeated attempts.
Along with police armed with rubber bullets, electric batons, smoke grenades and tear gas, a journalist at the confrontation witnessed a number of military police officers carrying AK-47 assault rifles and riot police officers with holstered side arms.
Commune and district police officials declined to comment on the investigation, referring questions to municipal police. City police officials could not be reached.
It is not known if the authorities are questioning members of the security forces who suppressed Sunday’s young stone throwers, nor if higher-ranking officials have given their account of what happened and who was in command of the operation, which involved several hundreds of police and military police.
Mao Sok Chan’s wife, Chiv Sokvy, said that she wants an investigation to find justice for her slain husband.
Ms. Sokvy also confirmed receipt of $2,000 donated by King Norodom Sihamoni and his mother, Queen Norodom Monineath, on the death of her husband, saying that it would help her raise her four children for the time being.