Kandal province police have accused an RCAF major of shooting dead a 21-year-old woman during drunken gun play in a Kandal province floating restaurant on the night of Sept 4.
The case against RCAF Major Mean Sokchea, 32, was submitted to the Kandal Provincial Court on Wednesday, though no charges have been brought against him, deputy Kandal provincial police chief Roeun Nara said Wednesday.
Mean Sokchea was arrested following the shooting, but he is no longer in custody, and neither Kandal provincial police chief Iv Chamroeun, nor Roeun Nara would disclose why the suspect was released.
Roeun Nara referred further questions to Kandal Provincial Court Prosecutor Ouk Kimseth, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Pa Sam Eth, Kien Svay district police chief, said that Mean Sokchea and several friends arrived at the Lover One restaurant, a floating karaoke parlor on the Mekong River in Kbal Koh commune, at about 11pm Sept 4.
Lover One restaurant owner Som Sary said that Mean Sokchea and his friends appeared drunk when they arrived and ordered ABC Stout. The group, which was joined by several young women, produced a 9mm Glock handgun and began to admire the Austrian-made pistol, Som Sary said.
According to Som Sary, Mean Sokchea picked up the gun, apparently intending to fire a bullet in the direction of the Mekong River. Instead, the gun went off, shooting one of the young women at the table, Puth Samphors, 21, through the torso, said Som Sary, who described the shooting as an accident.
Puth Samphors fell face first onto the table, Som Sary said.
The 21-year-old was conscious for a time but passed out by the time Som Sary and Mean Sokchea carried her to a motorbike and drove her to the Bayon Hospital in Phnom Penh.
Throughout the 20-minute motorbike ride, Mean Sokchea apologized to the unconscious Puth Samphors, Som Sary said.
“He kept saying he was sorry and that it was an accident,” Som Sary said.
Mean Sokchea later gave $2,700 to Puth Samphors’ family in Prey Veng province, Som Sary said.
Contact information for Mean Sokchea could not be obtained Wednesday.
Puth Samphors died shortly after arriving at the hospital, and her body was taken to the Preah Puth pagoda in Phnom Penh.
Kien Svay district police chief Pa Sam Eth said Wednesday that Mean Sokchea was arrested at the pagoda by Kien Svay and Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district police in the early hours of Friday.
“We found in his belongings that he is a major of the RCAF according to his RCAF ID card…. But his position on his ID card is not so clear because there was damage on some of the words, but he is 100 percent an armed forces man,” Pa Sam Eth said.
The shooting of Puth Samphors is only the most recent in a long litany of violence against women in nightclubs, restaurants and karaoke parlors.
Between February and April 2006, four female beer promotion workers were shot and injured by armed military and police officers in four separate shooting incidents at karaoke parlors and beer gardens.