Touch Huot, a prominent activist for the SRP in Kompong Thom province, was shot dead Friday night in what police are claiming to be a revenge killing perpetrated by a fellow SRP member.
Mr Huot, 45, was shot twice by an AK-47 outside his Stong district home during a family dinner and died at the scene, police said. Mr Huot had been the SRP’s shadow village chief for Chamna Loeu commune’s Kor village.
According to provincial police chief Phan Sopheng, the police suspect that the shooting was committed by Chhet Chhe, 23, a recent immigrant from Thailand and a member of the SRP who lives in the same village as Mr Huot. He added that police do not believe the murder was politically motivated.
“It is a revenge case between the gunman and the victim,” said Mr Sopheng.
One week before the shooting, police said, Mr Huot and Mr Chhe had fought, yelling at each other and arguing loudly. Police said they did not yet know what had sparked the verbal altercation between the two men.
Mr Chhe is currently being monitored by police to ensure he does not flee, Mr Sopheng said. “We have not yet arrested him because we are awaiting the arrest warrant from the court.”
In a statement issued Saturday, the SRP pushed for the prompt arrest of Mr Huot’s killer, appealing to authorities at all levels. The opposition party’s statement did not address whether the party believes the attack to be politically motivated.
SRP lawmaker and party spokesman Yim Sovann was unavailable for comment yesterday.
The murder comes on the heels of another high-profile shooting of an SRP supporter. Last month, Yont Thauron, the son of SRP lawmaker Yont Tharo, was gunned down near Phnom Penh’s Wat Botum Park in what police have said was a dispute over a minor traffic accident. No arrest has been made in that slaying.