Trigger-Happy Soldier to Face Court Over Drunken Shooting

A military official who drunkenly fired his pistol into the ceiling of a karaoke parlor in Battambang province on Sunday will face court today, despite efforts by military officials to discipline him internally, police said.

Roat Serey Panha, a major in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and the deputy head of the RCAF finance department in the province, discharged his pistol at Princess Karaoke in Battambang City at around 10:30 p.m. after losing his iPhone inside the establishment, according to deputy provincial police chief Chet Vanny.

“The offender told our officers that he shot once into the roof of the karaoke venue because he was angry that his mobile phone was stolen from his pocket,” Mr. Vanny said, adding that Mr. Serey Panha had been drinking with a friend from the same RCAF department since early in the evening.

While acknowledging that Mr. Serey Panha’s actions were illegal, Mr. Vanny said that he would not be sent to the provincial court.

“We will not send him to court because he has not committed a serious crime. We will hand him to RCAF’s finance department to be disciplined according to the military’s rules,” he said.

However, later in the day, Meng Leang, chief of the provincial minor crimes bureau, said that the offender would be forced to face justice on the insistence of the karaoke parlor’s owner, who had been the victim of the soldier’s bad temper once before.

“The military officer has done this once a few months ago,” Mr. Leang said, adding, “We arrested and detained him and he was educated and signed a contract to say that he wouldn’t do it again.”

Mr. Leang said that the offender’s superiors came on Monday to the provincial police station, where Mr. Serey Panha is being held, and asked that he be handed over for punishment, but were denied.

“We refused because the karaoke shop demanded our authorities put the offender in jail as he shot and destroyed the shop and guests ran away without paying because of the shooting,” he said.

“We are now building a case to send the offender to court [today].”

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