Still No Arrests Made Following Pursat Shootings

Five Fisheries Administration officials suspected of involvement in last month’s fatal shooting of three people—including a pregnant woman—have not been arrested or charged, the administration’s Director-General Nao Thuok said Wednesday.

Nao Thuok said that the officials—who fled immediately after the Pursat province shooting on April 23—are in hiding and have not made contact with his department.

Pursat Provincial Court Prose­cutor Tob Chansereyvuth declined to discuss the case on Tuesday and Wednesday, requesting that a reporter travel to Pursat to meet personally if he wanted further comment.

Pursat court’s Deputy Prosecu­tor Pen Sarath said the case had been turned over to Court Director Pol Vorn. A man answering Pol Vorn’s phone said the director was away and could not be contacted.

Nao Thuok said the Fisheries Ad­ministration has not decided whether to take any disciplinary ac­tion against the men.

Nguyen Yang Kuor, 28, his five-months pregnant wife, Yor Thy Bong, 26, and their employee, Khai Yang Hour, 21, were shot dead by Fisheries Administration officials armed with AK-47 assault rifles. The couple’s two-year-old daughter and another 17-year-old girl were also on the boat but survived the shooting.

The Fisheries Administration officials fled the area after reporting by radio that they had been at­tacked by the fishermen and shot in self-defense. Witnesses to the killings claimed that the Fisheries officials opened fire without provocation.

Three days after the shooting, five fishermen from the victims’ Tonle Sap lake floating village in Krakor district were arrested and imprisoned for allegedly fishing in an off-limits reserve maintained by the state.

Villager Sok Channy, 44, who employed the five detained men, said officials also confiscated her three boats and all her fishing equipment.

“In the past, arrested fishermen were not imprisoned, but released after negotiating,” she said. “Since the [shooting] incident took place, it is stricter.”

Ethnic-Vietnamese fisherman Yung Sam, 60, agreed. “Before the shooting, fishermen were arrested for money and not imprisoned [long term],” he claimed. He added that he has never had much trouble because he fishes on a small scale and pays police, commune and fisheries officials $10 to $25 each year to fish freely.

Sin Sao Rith, an officer at the provincial Fisheries Department’s Office for Controlling Illegal Fish­ing, said the five jailed fishermen were imprisoned because they had illegally entered a reserve.

Chan Soveth, investigator for local rights group Adhoc, said he was uncertain which of the Fish­eries officials opened fire on the villagers. “They should have shot into the sky,” rather than gunning down the fishermen, he added.

 

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