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Svay Rieng shooting victims get their say

The three young women wounded in last month’s factory shooting in Svay Rieng province will meet with provincial prosecutor Hing Bunchea today to give their account of the February 20 incident that has yet to produce an arrest warrant.

Bun Chinda, 21, Nuth Sokhorn, 23, and Keo Nea, 18, were due in court yesterday, but their meeting was delayed after being told the provincial prosecutor was busy.

“I was busy at a drug congress so … they agreed to come on Thursday,” Hing Bunchea said yesterday. “It is about their complaint against Chhouk Bandith.”

Chhouk Bandith, the former Bavet town governor and sole suspect in the case, was himself questioned about the shooting on Thursday, March 12.

Following that meeting, Hing Bunchea told the Post that Chhouk Bandith had “confessed”, though his recounting of events varied in different publications Asked yesterday how or when he planned to take action against Chhouk Bandith, he declined comment.

However, workers and families contacted by the Post said  they still fear for their safety knowing Chhouk Bandith is free.

“My wife and I are worried about our safety, because I am afraid that the suspect will take revenge for filing a complaint against him,” said Sin Sam Oun, the 26-year-old husband of Nuth Sokhorn.

Shooting victim Bun Chinda, who was shot through the chest by a bullet that narrowly missed her heart, said: “I am poor and he is powerful, so now there is the court to find justice for me. I want him arrested.”

On March 7, Bun Chinda was visited by municipal officials who offered her a choice of US$1,000 or a motorbike in return for her silence, her brother and a deputy village chief in Bavet told the Post at the time.

Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Centre, said that the lack of an arrest in such a high-profile case could prove detrimental to the nation’s garment industry.

“It is a big issue and concern if the gunman is not arrested. If it is not solved, [international brands] will step back [from investing here],” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at chhay.channyda@phnompenhpost.com

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