An RCAF colonel was released from police custody on Sunday after being arrested for shooting a beer promotion girl at Rockha II Karaoke bar in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district on Friday night, police officials said on Sunday.
Meth Srey Nea, 23, was shot in her left thigh and wrist around 11:50 pm, and is now at Calmette Hospital, said Tuol Kok district deputy police chief Heng Watana.
Lay Sovann, 40, told police that the shooting was an accident.
According to Lay Sovann, he was asleep at the karaoke bar after a heavy night of alcohol and song. When his drinking buddies tried to wake him up to pay the bill, he accidentally dropped his K-54 handgun and it discharged, injuring Meth Srey Nea, said Heng Watana.
Lay Sovann was released on Sunday after a superior at the Ministry of Defense vouched for his good character, Heng Watana said. Heng Watana would not disclose the identity of the defense ministry official.
“This is not a shooting incident, just an accidental gun discharge,” said Touch Naruth, Phnom Penh municipal police chief. “We sent him back to his RCAF commander to be reeducated, and ordered him to pay all the victim’s medical bills and pay her compensation.”
Meth Srey Nea has not filed a complaint against Lay Sovann, but if she does, the case will go to court, Touch Naruth maintained.
The Tuol Kok district authorities received a report on the incident but have not ordered the karaoke bar closed at this point, said Leav Sunly, commune chief of Depo III where the bar is located.
This incident comes as plans are in the works to create a union to represent the interests of beer promotion workers, who are regularly subject to violence and abuse at the hands of drunken customers.
A television commercial telling customers to treat beer promotion workers with dignity started airing on TV3 and TVK last month. Produced by the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center with the support of the Danish NGO Dan Church Aid, the television spot tells viewers not to regard the promoters, known colloquially as “beer girls,” as sex workers.