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‘Suspicious suspect’ in Bavet shooting named

Police in Svay Rieng province said yesterday a Bavet town police officer had been under court-ordered supervision since last week on suspicion of being involved in the February shooting at a garment factory protest in the Special Economic Zone there.

Provincial police chief Prach Rim said Sar Chantha, the chief of penal police in Bavet town, had been put under court supervision by Judge Pech Chhoeut in relation to the ongoing case.

Former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith was charged in April with “unintentional injury” for allegedly firing his gun at random into a crowd of 6,000 workers at the Kaoway Sports Factory in February, injuring three female garment workers.

Investigations in the case continue and no court date has yet been set for the disgraced governor, who was released on bail.

Rim could not give details of the criminal-code charge against the officer, but said he was a “suspicious suspect” in the case.

“We have just received the letter from court last week to put him under court supervision, but he was not in the shooting area, because he was 500 or 600 metres away from the shooting place,” Rim said.

“This case is under investigation, so he is not allowed to go anywhere and needs to inform the court of his whereabouts.

“Our officer has no fear, because it’s not a new case and he did not commit the crime.”

Rim added that Chantha was first summonsed to meet the prosecutor and judge in July.

Chantha could not be reached for comment, but Bavet town police chief Keo Kong said he did not know about the court case against his officer and said that Chantha “still comes to work as usual”.

Chin Lida, lawyer for the three female garment workers injured in the shooting, said he had heard of no further developments in the slow-moving case.

“In the law, if the investigation lasts for longer than one year, the party in the case can request the court to finish the investigation and set a date for hearing,” Lida said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at channyda.chhay@phnompenhpost.com

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