A policeman maintains he told two Bulgarians and a Briton to "stop, stop...there
is fighting" before they rode down Sihanouk Blvd.
In a version of events
expected to be mirrored in the official police report on the shooting,
Lieutenant Chea Chanty said he went out of his way to warn the trio. "If they
had listened to me, they would have been safe," said Chanty, of the Chatomuk
police station at the eastern end of Sihanouk Blvd.
He said on the night
of Aug 26 there was much shooting, with "maybe 100" soldiers on the
Scared, he and his men hid in the police station. But around 1am,
he said he saw three foreigners on a motorcycle go slowly past the police
He said he ran outside and shouted at them to "stop, stop"
because "there is fighting" down the street. He said the motorcycle went a short
way down the road, turned back briefly, then again turned and continued down the
road. Soldiers opened fire.
Chanty's report was filed at the Khan Daun
Penh police station, where Inspector Pol Phithey and Deputy Inspector Uch Thorn
were preparing a report expected eventually to go the Bulgarian and British
Phithey, who said the soldiers who fired the shots hadn't been
interviewed, maintained that warning shots in the air were fired.
the shooting followed two instances of Khmers on Rebel motorcycles - the same
model the foreigners were riding - firing guns at nearby government
Phithey told what he believed happened:
Aug 26 around 10pm, a [passenger on a] Honda Rebel motorbike shot a pistol many
times around the area of Hun Sen's house. There were two people on the bike. At
that time the situation remained calm.
"After midnight a Rebel motorbike
drove near [an alleyway off Sihanouk Blvd leading to National Assembly chairman]
Chea Sim's house and shot a pistol. I don't know if it hit the house. At that
time Chea Sim's bodyguards came out and fired many times, shooting in the air
and at the fleeing motorbike... hundreds of shots.
"Then we had another
Rebel, arrived immediately after... minutes later. That was the foreigners'. One
of our policemen [Chanty] shouted for them to stop. They started off about eight
meters down the road, turned back, then turned again and drove straight down the
"When they arrived at the point where [Chea Sim's] bodyguards were,
the shooting happened again.
"At the first point the bodyguards shot into
the air... then when they got to the other point [Hun Sen's guards] did not know
whose moto it was, it was going fast... [they] shot into
"Immediately the bodyguards arranged to take them to hospital. The
three foreigners were also drunk. I did not know anything about them being
"We are very sorry [the shooting] happened, but they should have
listened to us."
Guards outside Chea Sim's residence, however, denied
they were involved in any shooting. They said troops on the road that night had
been from Hun Sen's house.
The guards said they had heard shooting, but
did not venture out or join in. "Samdech [Chea Sim] was not even here that
night, he does not sleep here," one said.
At Calmette Hospital, Ivanov
and James, who were on the motorcycle, reacted angrily to Phithey's version of
"Tell him to bring in his report here, and I'll rip in up in his
face," said James. We were halfway down the road, still being shot at, before I
heard anyone yell stop. These were tracers [bullets]...you can see what a tracer
is aimed at, and these were aimed at us. There were bullets
Ivanov said: "You think if someone says to us 'stop, stop'
and they start shooting in the air, I won't stop? The first bullets that I saw
came straight for us. That's why I didn't stop - I didn't know who they were
Both men also disputed being drunk. James said he hadn't drunk
alcohol since February, on medical advice. Ivanov said the police could possibly
explain the shooting as an isolated, unfortunate error if there had only been
one incident. But the shooting at Australian Iain Howatson around the same time
made the events harder to explain rationally.