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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Shooting probe still pending

Riot police fire weapons during a clash on the Kbal Thnal overpass in Phnom Penh late on Sunday night.
Riot police fire weapons during a clash on the Kbal Thnal overpass in Phnom Penh late on Sunday night. On Monday, the King donated $1,000 to nine people who were seriously wounded in the violent confrontation. Pha Lina

Shooting probe still pending

Though eight victims shot during a brutal police crackdown on Sunday night were compensated by King Norodom Sihamoni on Monday, an investigation into the incident has still not been launched.

When Oun Sokheang, 27, was shot in the leg, he was sent for surgery at Calmette Hospital despite being unable to pay for the operation, his wife, Sun Phanna, said.

“The King donated a blanket, mosquito net, a scarf, sarong and an envelope with $1,000,” Phanna said, adding that it was delivered by a royal officer.

Neang Ratana, 31, is also recovering at Calmette after being shot in the throat on his way home from work at a construction site, his wife, Chin Chanthy, told the Post yesterday.

“My husband has regained consciousness and can take some boiled rice after doctors operated on his wound,” she said, adding that he was recovering in a building beside the hospital for patients unable to pay for medical care following his operation.

Both women expressed gratitude for the King’s donation and another $500 raised by local NGOs.

“Before I went to the hospital, I wanted to file a complaint with the [Phnom Penh] court, demanding compensation for the hospital fees, but now I won’t, because the King supported us along with other NGOs and generous people,” Chanthy said.

Sixteen-year-old Buth Sothy, who sustained a bullet wound in the shoulder, was the only victim at Calmette not to receive $1,000, but was told by the hospital’s administrative staff that his medical bills had been covered.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap yesterday cited the ongoing conversations between the two political parties as the primary reason why an investigation into excessive force by police has yet to be launched.

“An investigation into the military police response will happen in a few days,” Yeap said.

National Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito confirmed an investigation was not yet under way, but declined to comment on whether the investigation would be independent or conducted by the ruling party.

Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua, meanwhile, echoed calls for an independent and impartial investigation into the excessive use of force by security forces against civilians made by a slew of human rights watchdogs this week.

“Sunday’s incident shows yet again the incompetence of police. We’re talking about 1,000 military men chasing down civilians and children; we’re lucky it wasn’t far worse. The government may conduct an investigation, but it will never be independent [of CPP influence],” Sochua said, adding that the CNRP would fully support any independent and transparent investigation.

In a statement released yesterday, Human Rights Watch, which said at least 24 were injured, called on the government to publicly order security forces to abide by international standards on the use of force and firearms.

Firing live ammunition at unarmed people at night constitutes excessive force, HRW Asia director Brad Adams said in the statement.

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