Villagers Blame Soldiers for Revenge Killing

kong pisei district, Kompong Speu province – Two weeks ago, men dressed in military uniforms shot and killed Nuon Sophal’s son.

This mother of a slain son is confused.

“The people had no guns, but we were shot at like [during] Pol Pot,” the 48-year-old woman said Sunday.

Nuon Sophal said that the soldiers could have at least apprehended her son and explained his offense before shooting him.

The incident took place on Feb 15, half an hour before midnight, when two vehicles carrying about 10 men sped into Boeng Chram Khang Tbong village. Villagers claim the raiding party consisted of members of RCAF’s elite Brigade 70.

The alleged soldiers shot about a half dozen bullets into the village, locals said. One of them proved fatal.

Thloak Sroy, 24, was caught in the gunfire while buying skewers of beef for his wife who had just given birth. He died when his daughter was just eight days old.

On Feb 19, military police appealed to the provincial court for two arrest warrants. The warrants still have not been issued, according to Kompong Speu Military Police Commander Men Siborn.

Men Siborn said that the warrants are for two men. He identified them as Phally and Phally’s father-in-law, Khan.

Ven Yoeun, provincial court prosecutor, said Monday that he had received the two warrant appeals, but had been too busy to attend to them. He said he will soon hand the case to an investigating judge who will likely hand out the warrants.

Meanwhile, resentment is flourishing in Boeng Chram Khang Tbong village.

“It is not a battlefield. They should not have shot like that,” said village chief Nuon Dina, who was also an uncle of the victim.

On Sunday, he named the suspect as Phen Phally and said he is believed to belong to Brigade 70. Phen Phally was invited to the village’s post-rice harvest celebration by his father-in-law, Nhem Khan, a fireworks producer, Nuon Dina said.

Phen Phally arrived with four friends and proceeded to get drunk. The group of friends danced in a sloppy frenzy. A fight broke out among the dancers at about 10:30 pm. One of Phally’s friends drove his knee into a young local man who had asked him to dance politely, so the village women could also join in, locals said.

Unluckily for the raucous dancers the village toughs gave Phally’s four friends sound beatings.

Then the party broke up.

Nuon Dina said he had offered to have the wounded brawlers taken to the hospital, but Phen Phally said he would call his own men for vehicles.

About an hour later, a pick-up truck and a Toyota Camry arrived and the shooting began, villagers said. They said that local youngsters tried to block the soldiers’ exit by dragging the trunks of palm trees across the only road leaving the village.

But the soldiers got through, while one of them emptied an AK-47 clip at the sky, provincial Deputy Police Chief Chea Vuth later said.

Thloak Sroy was killed during the attack, though he wasn’t even at the party, said his mother Nuon Sophal.

Mao Sophan, commander of Brigade 70, denied on Monday that his men had been responsible for the raid, and said that police should investigate more thoroughly before making accusations.

He also said that there are many men named Phally in his charge.

But Men Siborn said Monday that military police have not accused anyone from Brigade 70 of the crime.

However, a human rights investigator for the NGO Adhoc, speaking Monday on condition of anonymity, said it was well known that the killer came from Brigade 70.

Authorities “know the offender, but he is not arrested because he is powerful,” the rights worker said. “Civil society and the people are very worried about such shootings.”

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