Singer Survives Shooting; Police Make No Arrests

Pov Panhapich, the popular singer and television host shot twice on Feb 23by a gunman on Norodom Boulevard, is in a stable condition and recovering from her injuries at a Vietnamese hospital, police said Sunday.

Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said by telephone that Pov Panhapich’s condition has stabilized. A bullet has been removed from the 23-year-old singer’s neck, though one bullet is still lodged in her hip bone, he said.

The municipal police have contributed more than $1,200 to cover the costs of her treatment in Ho Chi Minh City, Touch Naruth said.

“We have saved her life,” he said, adding that making sure Pov Panhapich survived, rather than finding the person who shot her, was the priority.

Touch Naruth said police have not yet identified suspects or determined a motive for the shooting, in which witnesses reported seeing a gunman in his 20s fire at the singer at close range from the back of motorcycle. A witness said a second motorbike carrying two other young men appeared to be providing protection for the first vehicle.

“We do not have any eviden­ce…­but we are not hopeless,” Touch Naruth said.

In a statement Saturday, the Norodom Ranariddh Party said that attempts on the lives of film stars and karaoke singers have in the past been related to “love triangles, especially love triangles between powerful and rich people.”

The NRP also said that no one has been held responsible for past killings or attempted killings of actresses, singers and other public performers.

“It is important that relevant authorities have the will to investigate,” NRP spokesman Muth Channtha said Sunday.

Ieng Sithul, director of the Khmer Actress Association, said the association has released a statement calling for an immediate investigation into the shooting.

Fay Sam Ang, director of Nice Star Production for which Pov Panhapich works, said he did not know why anyone would shoot the talented singer.

“She is a good girl—she is never jealous of anyone,” he said.

SRP Secretary-General Mu Sochua said that high-level police lack the “competence and determination” to investigate murders and attempted killings of female actresses and singers.

“I believe it will be another case closed, but I hope I’m wrong,” she said of Friday’s shooting.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sop­heak denied that police lack the will to investigate, saying that police apprehended suspects for nearly 90 percent of the crimes reported last year. Police try their best, but sometimes are unable to find killers and gunmen, he said.

“We have the will, so sooner or later we will find them,” Khieu Sopheak said. The police investigation into Friday’s shooting has so far turned up no clue as to the motive, he added.

Violent attacks on women working in the entertainment industry are not unknown in Cambodia.

Several female employees were injured last year in shooting incidents at beer gardens or karaoke venues.

An RCAF colonel who shot a beer promotion worker in the leg and wrist in February 2006 was released after he agreed to pay his victim’s medical bills, officials said at the time.

Two RCAF soldiers who shot a beer promotion woman in the foot in April that year because she had not fetched them ice quickly enough could not be arrested because no one had lodged a complaint, Touch Naruth said at the time.

When a shooting or other crime does not result in death, suspects and victims sometimes choose to “compromise” rather than pursue the matter in court, Khieu Sopheak said.

“As the police, when the victim agrees [to compensation], we cannot interfere,” he said, adding that prosecuting perpetrators is the responsibility of the courts.


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