Soldier Who Shot at Police in Phnom Penh Will Face Court

A soldier will face court Thursday after his pistol discharged during a scuffle with a group of police officers conducting traffic inspections along Russian Boulevard in Phnom Penh on Tuesday evening, police said Wednesday.

Five Pur Senchey district police officers had been checking license plates on motorbikes along the arterial road at about 11 p.m. when they saw that a man dressed like a soldier had pulled over and was observing them, according to Touch Phorn, the deputy district police chief who had been leading the operation.

Mr. Phorn said police approached the man, Som Sophat, 43, after they noticed that he was carrying a K-54 pistol.

“We asked him to prove that he had a license for his handgun,” he said. “He took one step backward and drew his gun to fire at us. Immediately, I and another officer grabbed him, but his gun fired once.”

No one was hit by the lone bullet, Mr. Phorn said, and Mr. Sophat was arrested.

“He shot at us, but he told us that he was drunk and that he had no intention to shoot us,” he said. “If he was a decent soldier, he would have cooperated and allowed us to check [his license].”

Mr. Phorn said that Mr. Sophat was employed by the Defense Ministry’s chemical protection department.

District police chief Yim Sarann said the soldier would be sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today to face two charges.

“This is illegal use of a weapon and shooting at police while implementing their work,” he said.

Asked to confirm Mr. Sophat’s position, Major General Bun Thorn, director of the chemical protection department, said he had “never seen this name in my department.”

Lieutenant General Chhim Savuth, director of the chemical protection office, a separate unit, also said he was not familiar with the offender.

“He is not a soldier in my unit. Please send him to court,” he said.

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