Tycoon Gunned Down In Phnom Penh

A prominent Phnom Penh businessman died after being shot six times by an unidentified gunman outside a fruit shop in Chamkar Mon district on Saturday, according to military police, who believe the murder was an assassination.

Ung Meng Chue, 53, a construction tycoon who held the honorific of okhna, had just stepped out of his Lexus SUV in front of the Lour Tech Seng Fruit Shop on Sihanouk Boulevard at about 7 p.m. when he was attacked, police said.

“This is a premeditated killing case,” deputy municipal military police commander Pol Davy said. “We have not determined if the murder is linked to any of his businesses.

“We got a video clip from some good people near the fruit shop on the street who were filming [the shooting],” Mr. Davy said. “We are now investigating to find the gunman.”

Ung Meng Chue owned a number of businesses, including Seng Hong Heng Import Export & Transport Co. Ltd., also called Shimmex, which specializes in the sale of construction materials and whose subsidiaries trade in jewelry, real estate and home appliances.

Security camera footage circulated online Sunday shows the murder playing out in front of the fruit store. As Ung Meng Chue steps out of his maroon SUV, a man in a white shirt and wearing a dark-colored baseball cap walks up behind him and fires the first shot.

Ung Meng Chue falls to the ground and turns to face the gunman, who fires more rounds before his gun seemingly jams. The businessman manages to get on his feet and appears to speak to the gunman before the shooting resumes. Within seconds, Ung Meng Chue falls to the ground as the gunman runs away.

Chheng Phet, 17, an employee at the fruit shop who had opened Ung Meng Chue’s driver-side door to let him out, said he heard at least 10 rounds fired.

“I was in the middle between them,” he said outside the shop Sunday. “I ran behind a tree after the second shot to save my own life.”

Phet said he saw a black Honda Dream motorbike, with two men on it, pull up behind Ung Meng Chue’s SUV when the businessman arrived at the shop. One of the men stepped off the motorbike, sneaked up behind the businessman and opened fire, he said.

“He fell to the ground after he was hit by three bullets, but then he stood up,” he said. “He tried to run toward the suspect, but the suspect just kept shooting and shooting.”

The teenager said the gunman was silent throughout the shooting, even as his pistol jammed repeatedly. “At first, the bullets did not come out, but he just kept trying,” he said. “He shot 10 times at least.”

According to a district police report, six bullets struck Ung Meng Chue, all in his midsection.

On Sunday afternoon, a half-dozen brawny men stood guard in front of the Shimmex-owned Hong Kong Jewelry shop at Phnom Penh’s Central Market, which was closed. They refused to provide their names, but one of them said they were police officers assigned to keep an eye on the store until Ung Meng Chue’s funeral was over.

During the funeral at the businessman’s Sen Sok district home on the outskirts of the city—which was watched over by military police—his nephew, Ung Por Tech, 20, said he could not shed any more light on the murder.

“I do not know who the murderer is and we are leaving the case for the police,” he said. “I cannot tell you anything.”

rith@cambodiadaily.com, pisey@cambodiadaily.com, consiglio@cambodiadaily.com

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