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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gunplay has Preah Vihear chief on thin ice

Gunplay has Preah Vihear chief on thin ice

The provincial police chief who allegedly fired his gun while drunk in a Siem Reap hotel on Sunday looks set to be replaced after a Ministry of Interior police official announced yesterday he was preparing to assume his position.

Media reports swelled yesterday morning with speculation that Mao Pov’s tenure as Preah Vihear police chief was nearing its end after he was charged on Monday with illegal shooting and intentional destruction of property.

By late yesterday, Interior Ministry police officer Yin Prasith – the man tipped to replace him – had told the Post he expected to replace Pov.

“Police Commissioner [General Neth Savoeun] understands my capabilities,” he said, adding he worked in close co-operation with armed forces on Preah Vihear’s border.

Pov was charged for allegedly firing four to five shots in Lok Yen Hotel after a boozy dinner on Sunday night, because he believed an “enemy” had followed him to his room.

The alleged incident came little more than a week after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered authorities across the country to punish high-ranking officials who fire their weapons in public places.

The authorities’ decision to release Pov on Monday after a simple apology drew criticism from rights groups.

National Police spokesman Lieutenant General Kirt Chantharith said Pov was hauled before the Savoeun yesterday to further explain his actions.

“Mao Pov met directly with the police commissioner to explain the shooting,” Chantharith said.

Chantharith could not confirm whether Pov would be demoted or dismissed.

Lor Chan, a co-ordinator for rights group Adhoc, said authorities should take strong action against Pov if it is proved he fired his gun in a hotel.

“It’s illegal and affects public order,” Chan said. “He is a senior police official who should be protecting people. Higher officers should take action on this matter.”

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday that he did not know whether the Prime Minister had taken an interest in this incident.

Hun Sen, however, had made it clear that firing a weapon in public is not acceptable, Siphan said.

“And I think it’s hard for someone to hide [such actions].”

Mao Pov could not be reached for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kim Yuthana at yuthana.kim@phnompenhpost.com
With assistance from Shane Worrell

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