With Bundith at Large, New Bavet Governor Named

A new Bavet City governor was appointed Wednesday, filling a post that was once held by Chhouk Bundith, who remains on the run after being found guilty of shooting into a crowd of protesting garment workers in 2012.

Mr. Bundith, who has never been arrested, was tried in absentia for the crime in May 2013. At that time, the post was temporarily filled by Neb Sarun, who is now stepping down.

“This morning, Seng Seila, deputy chief of the provincial administration department, was appointed as Bavet City governor to replace Neb Sarun, who has retired,” said provincial administration chief Ros Pharith.

“I don’t know where Chhouk Bundith is right now,” Mr. Pharith added.

In November, the Court of Appeal upheld a verdict handed down last June by the Svay Rieng Provincial Court, in which Mr. Bundith was found guilty in absentia, sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $9,500 to the three women he shot and injured.

Reached by telephone Wednesday, Mr. Bundith’s lawyer, Sun Bunnarith, said he was “busy at a party” before hanging up on a reporter.

Chin Lyda, a lawyer from rights group Licadho who represented the three injured workers, said she wants the Supreme Court to bring the former governor to justice.

“I still request the Supreme Court to find justice for my clients, and I ask that the police please find and arrest Chhouk Bundith soon,” Mr. Lyda said.

Chheang Vantha, a clerk at the Supreme Court, said the case had not been scheduled to be heard.

Rights groups have decried the authorities’ failure to apprehend Mr. Bundith. But Lieutenant General Mok Chito, director of the Interior Ministry’s central judicial department, said the hunt is still on.

“Our police forces are looking to arrest him. He cannot escape—sooner or later, we will arrest him,” he said.

“But we cannot tell reporters where Chhouk Bundith is, because then they will write about his case,” he added.


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