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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Dispute at army base turns tragic

Dispute at army base turns tragic

An infantry lieutenant fatally shot a fellow officer’s wife during a domestic dispute with his own wife on an army base in Pursat province early yesterday, military officials said.

Brigadier General Nuon Se, commander of the 508th Infantry Regiment based in Veal Veng district, said third lieutenant Sam Kuon, 45, was immediately arrested after allegedly shooting to death Prak Theany, 49, outside her home, and was sent to military court in Phnom Penh to be officially charged after questioning by Pursat provincial military police.

“He got drunk, and he had a conflict with his wife, so he used his pistol to threaten to kill his wife,” Se said, noting that the incident took place about 1am. “But when he was pointing the gun at his wife and threatening to shoot her, the neighbours, [one of whom] was also a military officer, came to intervene and stop him from shooting.

“When the husband of the victim was coming to intervene and stop him from shooting his wife, the suspect attempted to shoot him, but unfortunately, the bullets hit the man’s wife, who died immediately at the scene.”

Another officer on the base, Captain Neh Sarin, said Kuon had begun beating his wife after finding her at the victim’s home, incensed that he had come home from a drinking session to an empty house.

 The shooting occurred when the victim’s husband tried to stop the beating.

According to Sarin, Kuon was preliminarily accused by military officials of intentional murder. If found guilty, he faces at least 20 years in jail.

Brigadier General Chhum Seng Huon, chief of staff of the 5th Military Region based in Veal Veng district, said leadership would implement measures, such as stricter control over the use of weapons and ammunition, in order to prevent further shootings.

“To prevent such illegal shootings in Pursat province in the future, we will strengthen discipline and regulations for all of our armed forces,” he said, adding that offenders would face “strong sanctions”.

Am Sam Ath, a technical supervisor for the rights group Licadho, said such shooting sprees had been increasing in frequency and were a real concern for Cambodians, noting that tighter regulations — for both the military and police — were only part of the solution.  

“They should also conduct training about human rights and other related laws for them, so they will clearly be aware about human rights and the laws,” Ath said.

“And to put an end to the culture of impunity in Cambodia, the government should bring those who have committed shooting sprees or crimes to the court to be punished by law,” he added.

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