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Bavet governor did it, shooting victim says

One of three women shot during a protest outside the Kaoway Sports factory in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town on February 20 accused deposed town governor Chhouk Bandith of the crime yesterday, but told a judge she hadn’t been sure until seeing a media report about the case.

Appearing in the provincial court yesterday, Nuth Sakhorn, 23, said she had lost consciousness after being shot during the 6,000-worker protest at the factory, which supplies global sports brand PUMA.

“I told the judge that I knew it was Chhouk Bandith who shot the three of us following a media report,” she said. “At the time, we were all unconscious.”

Nuth Sakhorn said she was seeking compensation from the former Bavet governor, who allegedly confessed in the provincial court last month to shooting her, Buot Chinda, 21, and Keo Near, 18, but walked free.

“I ask compensation from Chhouk Bandith of US$45,000 – and I want the court to sentence him according to the law,” she said.

Nuth Sakhorn told the Post that she feared for her safety after making her statement to the court and returning home yesterday.

Hing Bun Chea, Svay Rieng chief prosecutor, said he had questioned all three workers who had filed complaints claiming former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith had shot them.

“I will be checking more documents before deciding whether to charge Chhouk Bandith. I will let you know [the outcome] later,” he said.

Moeun Tola, head of the labour programme at the Community Legal Education Centre, said the provincial court seemed unwilling to issue an arrest warrant even though the Ministry of Interior had announced Chhouk Bandith as the suspected shooter.

“We should know who he is,” Moeun Tola said. “He is just the district governor. The court, however, seems afraid of this man, because he has a lot of high-level officers and tycoons backing him.”

On March 7, Bavet town officials allegedly attempted to buy the silence of all three victims, offering between $500 and $1,000 for them not to press charges.

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