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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mistaken for wildlife, teen shot dead: police

Mistaken for wildlife, teen shot dead: police

While illegally hunting in a Mondulkiri community forest late on Saturday night, the nephew of a high-ranking provincial official allegedly mistook a sleeping teenager for wildlife, shooting and killing him with a gun believed to have been stolen.

Yeun Yorn, the 26-year-old nephew of Mondulkiri provincial Deputy Governor Svay Sam Ieng, was poaching rabbits and other wildlife in Koh Nhek district, accompanied by a friend and a handful of other village hunters, according to district police officials.

The victim, Phar Nuth, 18, had entered the forest to look for timber with a crew of illegal loggers. Nuth and the others were sleeping in hammocks when Yorn stumbled across their encampment, according to district deputy police chief Khlout Sophea.

Yorn, who was hunting by flashlight, claimed it was easy to confuse the blurred shapes of human figures with wildlife at night and from a long distance. Thinking the sleeping loggers were some kind of wild animal, Yorn shot an AK-47 assault rifle he had allegedly stolen from a local plantation a few days earlier.

“The victim was shot in the thigh [and the bullet] went through him, [exiting near the hip on the other side], causing him to die immediately,” Sophea said.

Yorn and his friend were arrested on Sunday and taken to the provincial police station. Police said they detained Yorn’s friend as a potential accomplice to murder, though they declined to provide his name yesterday. Both are scheduled to be transferred to court today for questioning.

“The perpetrator is suspected of two crimes,” Sou Sovann, provincial deputy police chief, said. “One is killing a human unintentionally and the other is illegal possession of a weapon.”

Sovann added that Yorn confessed to both the shooting and to finding and stealing the rifle from a local plantation five days before the incident. Police confiscated the rifle when they arrested Yorn on Sunday.

The provincial deputy governor told police yesterday that he would not be intervening on his nephew’s behalf, and asked the court to take proper legal action.

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