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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - No axing yet for pistol packing paratrooper

No axing yet for pistol packing paratrooper

Khon Sokheng, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces captain who allegedly shot his neighbour in the neck after a verbal dispute on Sunday, has not yet been relieved of his post, an unnamed officer in Sokheng’s brigade said yesterday.

Chab Pheakdey, the commander of Paratrooper Brigade 911, could not be reached for comment.

But an officer with the unit – who asked not to be named because he was unauthorised to speak on the matter – told the Post that the accused captain had not been dismissed because official charges had not been filed.

He also stressed that Sokheng’s alleged activity was not related to the elite brigade.

“This was his personal issue; those hairs are on his head. It is not related with Paratrooper Brigade 911 at all,” he said.

He added that the brigade would “detain him and send him to the military police or the court if he comes in for work, or to hide in the unit”.

Pou Dary, deputy commander of the Phnom Penh Municipal Military Police, said that while Sokheng had not been arrested yet, authorities “already know about his identity, his workplace and family”. 

“He will be arrested soon,” he promised.

On Sunday, the officer allegedly shot a man in the neck after an argument devolved into lewd gestures.

Two months ago, Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke out publicly against officials and the well-connected using firearms with impunity.

But Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, said he had seen little reaction on the part of Cambodia’s courts.

“Since Hun Sen’s announcement the pro-government media has been publishing various shooting stories apparently checking whether the powers that be will call for prosecutions. But so far, there has been little real increase in accountability for incidents of this kind,” he said via email yesterday.

Robertson also called attention to Brigade 911’s chequered past, calling it “a bad actor that was involved in extrajudicial executions around the 1997 coup d’état, and has committed other grave abuses since then”.

“Brigade 911 is beyond the pale and this latest incident just reinforces that determination,” he added.  

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at reaksmeykongkea.buth@phnompenhpost.com
With assistance from Stuart White

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