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Military commander issues gun warning

THE national commander of the military police warned yesterday that officials under his authority would be removed from their posts for drug trafficking, possession of illegal weapons or “anarchically” firing military-issue weapons.

Speaking during an annual meeting at military police headquarters in Phnom Penh yesterday, Sao Sokha blasted officials who misuse their weapons, noting that “most of them are military police officers”.

“I do hate military police firing anarchically,” he said, calling on trigger-happy officials to instead put their enthusiasm to good use.

“Some military police are good at firing anarchically; they should go to the border to fight with enemies. [Border officials] reserve the right to hold 40 kilogramme weapons.”

He said that “even rich or powerful” military officials would be dismissed from their posts if caught discharging their weapons recklessly. He also warned that the involvement of military officials in drug trafficking would not be tolerated.

“Regarding the drug issue, it is also related to military police over all the country due to those military police taking money – that means taking bribes – from drug smugglers,” he said.

“I confirm that it is illegal. I do not forgive military officials who commit this. Please stay far away from drugs.”

Chan Soveth, head of monitoring for the rights group Adhoc, yesterday welcomed the cautionary comments.

“Poor residents can’t buy guns to fire anarchically, so most of the time it is military police or powerful people who fire anarchically and keep illegal weapons,” he said.

As well as posing a threat to local residents, illegal weapon use could harm the Kingdom’s tourism industry, he said, noting that stray bullets kill and injure indiscriminately.

“Anarchic firing is a very bad act. It looks like [we have] a country without law,” he said. “It affects the public security as well as tourists because weapons do not have eyes.”

Mu Sochua, a lawmaker for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, also welcomed the cautionary comments, but noted that military officials improperly using their weapons should be prosecuted in addition to being dismissed from their posts.

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