One of the alleged attackers in Sunday’s killing of deputy municipal military police Commander Reth Nika was an Interior Ministry policeman who also died Sunday from a gunshot wound, according to a district police report obtained Monday.
Sources said two arrests had been made in the case, however security officials Monday remained silent on the killings, as senior police and military police officials either declined to answer questions or were unreachable.
Reth Nika, who held the rank of lieutenant colonel and is believed to be related to a high-ranking government official, was gunned down early Sunday evening in a hail of bullets after fleeing into a pagoda on Daun Penh district’s Street 178. His assailants then fled the scene in a Mitsubishi Pajero SUV, witnesses said shortly after the killing.
A report written Monday by Daun Penh district police identifies one of the assailants as Roth Channosody, 27, a colonel in the Interior Ministry’s logistics department, who it said died later at Calmette Hospital from a bullet wound to the left side of his chest.
The report also said police have arrested 24-year-old suspect Hor Sok Heng, but provided no further information about the individual.
Reth Nika’s age had originally been given as 27, however Monday’s report said he was only 24.
A police official within the Interior Ministry said on condition of anonymity Monday that a second suspect had also been arrested and both men were now in the custody of ministry officials.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak declined to comment on the investigation, referring questions to the military police and saying he had no official information on the case Monday.
National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha said he was too busy to speak with a reporter, and neither municipal military police Commander Ya Kim Y nor municipal police chief Touch Naruth could be reached.
The Daun Penh district police report did not mention a possible motive for the attack.
Evidence recovered at the scene included four bullet shell casings from within the black Mercedes S320 in which Reth Nika was travelling and a further 13 shells found on the street, according to the police report.
Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said that a brazen public assassination of a military police official by assailants, allegedly including an Interior Ministry police official, suggested the involvement of powerful individuals.
“The fact that somebody dared to do this out in the open, I think it shows people with connections,” he said.
Ou Virak also said he doubted that the security forces would be capable of investigating their own ranks.
“I think anybody can see this situation is hopeless to get justice for the victim,” he said. “It wouldn’t be surprising if we find that some of the other people are in the police force,” he added.
(Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)