The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday evening questioned a tycoon and his nephew, a military police official, over their involvement in shots fired during a brief clash between supporters of the Cambodian People’s Party and the Cambodia National Rescue Party on Friday night, court and police officials said.
Court prosecutor Meas Chanpisith said that four had been arrested, but two were ultimately released after they were found to be uninvolved with the shooting, leaving only tycoon Khy Kimlon and military police officer Ung Chanthan in custody.
According to Cambodian Center for Human Rights President Ou Virak – who reviewed CCTV footage of the incident – a group of CNRP supporters was parading through a Phnom Penh neighbourhood when they began verbally sparring with CPP supporters attending a private party at Kimlon’s house.
“So they drove past and [the CPP supporters] were screaming ‘number four’, and the CNRP was screaming ‘number seven’, so there was a fight,” Virak said, referring to the parties’ numbered positions on the voting ballot. “It’s not clear who started it.”
After the fighting broke out, the CPP supporters withdrew into Kimlon’s compound and closed the gate, prompting fears that several CNRP members had been grabbed and taken inside, Virak said. CNRP supporters threw stones over the wall, and CPP supporters tossed back dinner plates.
Finally, someone inside fired several shots into the air.
Authorities arrived and brokered a peace, and police and opposition members were allowed to search the house for stray members but none were found. A few people were slightly injured in the brouhaha and three vehicles were damaged.
“Ung Chanthan has claimed that he was the one who shot into the air to threaten the group of CNRP people rallying outside, but actually his uncle, Ly Kimlon, did it,” said Municipal Military Police deputy commander Pou Davy, saying the matter was “not about political threatening; it was a personal argument”.
Virak expressed a similar sentiment, saying the incident was “just a bunch of young men whose blood was boiling”.
“There are these young hotheads who seem not to be able to control themselves, but also the opposition is a bit more emboldened,” he said, noting the newly merged party was “not as easily intimidated” as in years past.