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Chhouk Bandith turns himself in

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Former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith walks out the the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh following a 2013 hearing. Heng Chivoan

Chhouk Bandith turns himself in

Former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith, who has never served a day in jail despite shooting three female garment workers at a protest more than three years ago, has turned himself in.

Phnom Penh police chief Choun Sovann said Bandith arrived at the police station on Saturday of his own accord and will now be transferred to Svay Rieng provincial court.

“He showed up this afternoon,” Sovann said. “We will take him to Svay Rieng court for legal action.”

Bandith’s arrest comes less than a week after Prime Minister Hun Sen called for his arrest during a public address.

“In the case of Chhouk Bandith, if police do not arrest him, they are wrong,” the premier said on Monday. “There is a red notice from Interpol. There must be arrests.”

Bandith disappeared shortly after the handing down of an 18-month jail sentence by the Court of Appeal in 2013 on the charge of “unintentional violence”, a sentence widely derided as “weak” by rights groups at the time.

The Appeals Court took up the case only after the provincial court in his home province of Svay Rieng had dropped it entirely.

Late last month, the three injured workers – Bun Chenda, Nuth Sakhorn and Keo Near – traveled to the capital to call for Bandith’s arrest. The trio pointed to the recent arrest of tycoon Sok Bun, who was arrested for his vicious assault on a former TV presenter after Hun Sen similarly calling for police action.

This morning, Keo Near expressed joy at the development, and called for compensation to be paid to Bandith’s three victims.

“I hope the court and police will bring him to the prison and order him to pay us compensation so we can use that money to pay for medical treatment,” she said.

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