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PM bodyguard officer freed

A former member of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit along with a former military police officer were released yesterday after the Phnom Penh Municipal Court dropped attempted murder charges against them related to an alleged shooting last July.

Kor Vandy, court vice president and presiding judge, said that the charges against Second Lieutenant Ouk Sopharith, 34, then a serving member of Hun Sen’s elite bodyguard unit, and Sok Kong, 38, a former military police officer, were dropped due to a lack of evidence.

The men were accused of shooting a 25-year-old student from a motorbike after an argument broke out in a Chamkarmon district nightclub.

“Ouk Sopharith and Sok Kong were not found guilty as accused, and the court has decided to drop the charges against them and order for their immediate release,” Vandy said, adding that the victims have the right to appeal to a higher court.

According to the judge, the pair was arrested by Chamkarmon district military police in the early hours of July 13 last year, when police seized a pistol, six bullets and a motorbike.

They were not charged with illegal possession of a weapon, as Sopharith was licensed to carry one at the time.

“I am very pleased that the court has found truth and justice for me, and decided to drop the charges and release me. But I am [still] very disappointed . . . [because] I was arrested and jailed for over a year in prison,” Sopharith said yesterday.

Koam Vitou and his defence lawyer did not appear in court yesterday, and they could not be reached for comment.

Vitou’s complaint said he was drinking and dancing with friends at Luxury World Night Club when they began arguing with another group.

After being ejected from the nightclub and driving home, Vitou claimed that two men with whom he had argued purposely collided with his motorbike and fired two shots, one of which hit him in the leg, before fleeing.

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