‘Russian Market’ Chief Fired

The director of Phnom Penh’s Phsar Tuol Tumpong has been fired, just days after a jewelry vendor was shot and seriously injured there, officials said Thurs­day.

Market director Keo Vibol said he was fired Tuesday, though the authorities who ordered his removal did not give him a satisfactory reason.

“They said I cannot control the situation, but in fact, somebody feels jealous with my position,” he said Thursday. “Maybe they thought that I was at fault over the [lack of] arrest of the man involved in the shooting incident.”

Last Friday, vendor Chheang Narin, 27, was shot inside the pop­ular market, also known as the Russian market, at close range by a man accompanying a female customer, according to police and witnesses.

Police said the man, whom they later identified as a driver for the general manager of Naga Casino, suspected the vendor of disrespecting his boss’ girlfriend, who was with him.

The driver, Kith Ratana, shot the vendor in the chest and fled, police said, adding that the girlfriend left Saturday for Malaysia,

Police said Wednesday they would seek a warrant to arrest Kith Ratana.

Keo Vibol defended his handling of the shooting on Thurs­day, saying he could not have stopped the suspect from fleeing.

“The market security officials do not have guns like police,” he said, adding “I don’t regret being removed.”

Keo Vibol said he has been moved to a position at the Chamkar Mon district office, while Ton Sotheareth, the market’s deputy director, would take his place.

Ton Sotheareth on Thursday also suggested the market director had been removed over the shooting. Since the shooting 21 security guards and two policeman have been assigned to the market, he said.

He added that the victim is recovering and has been discharged from the hospital.

Chamkar Mon district governor Lo Yuy on Thursday said Keo Vibol’s removal was not related to the shooting, but declined to give another reason.

 

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