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Police officers accused of wrongful shooting

130218 03a
Meng Try, a 47-year-old suspected drug dealer, recovers in hospital on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, after being shot by a police officer in Poipet town. Photograph: Phnom Penh Post

The wife of a suspected drug dealer is accusing police officers of wrongfully shooting her husband during an attempted arrest at the couple’s Banteay Meanchey home last Friday.

Oul Sovann, 27, said her husband – Meng Try, 47 – was cleaning the road in front of their home when four armed men dressed in civilian attire stepped out of a car and attempted to arrest him.

Try bolted, and this was when the officers opened fire, his wife said. Try was shot in the stomach and sent to the Mongkul Borey hospital following the altercation.

Sovann said doctors had given Try a blood transfusion, but he remains unconscious. Try suffers from chronic heart disease and has remained home for a year, she added.

Maintaining her husband’s innocence, Sovann said, “I am so afraid, because I do not know the reason why the police shot my husband.” She intends to submit a complaint when Try regains consciousness.

Prosecutors had earlier issued a summons for Try to come in for questioning, but he failed to do so, forcing the court to issue an arrest warrant, said provincial court Judge Ith Sophors.

Poipet commune police chief police Um Sophal added that Try was shot accidentally as officers were forced to wrestle him into submission when he resisted arrest.

National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith told the Post that there are no fixed rules of engagement when it comes to using deadly force.

“It depends on the case involved. We ask our officers to be disciplined and not to endanger the suspect unless absolutely necessary,” he said, adding that cases involving drug suspects are usually “very dangerous”.

He added that officers can fire in the air to threaten the suspect or stop the suspect from running.

Lawyer Sok Sam Oeun from the Cambodian Defenders Project said police should only open fire in self-defence or in the defence of a third person.

But, he added, officers tend to err on the side of caution when making drug-related arrests: “Police here take more precautions, as officers have been injured and killed before.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kim Sarom at newsroom@phnompenhpost.com

Danson Cheong at dansoncjf@gmail.com

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