Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Clues emerge in fatal shooting of NGO staffer

Clues emerge in fatal shooting of NGO staffer

Clues emerge in fatal shooting of NGO staffer

Two eyewitnesses and a weapon have emerged in the case of a legal aid NGO investigator who was shot to death allegedly by a military police officer in Kandal province on Friday, but police still differ on whether the shooting was intentional.

According to police, provincial military policeman Preab Bunsong, 36, shot and killed 32-year-old International Bridges to Justice staffer Houn Bunnith after the latter accused him of running illegal gambling activities during a Khmer New Year drinking session.

Takhmao Police Chief Sim Buth Bandith said that after the questioning of the two witnesses, there was little doubt that the shooting was intentional.

“Actually, a gun cannot trigger easily,” he said. “It is a murder.”

However, Deputy Chief Hor Sam Ol maintained that eyewitness accounts described the death as the result of a mishandled firearm.

“The victim asked the suspect to let him see his gun. The suspect took out the gun, and it was accidentally triggered and badly injured the victim in the neck,” he said, adding that Bunsong tried to rush Bunnith to a nearby clinic.

“Unfortunately, the victim died, and [Bunsong] dropped him and escaped,” he continued. “It is an unintentional killing. It happened after the victim jokingly said that the suspect was running gambling.”

Those same eyewitness accounts, said Sam Ol, led police to find the weapon hidden at Bunsong’s house.

Sam Ol added that police believe the suspect to be hiding in the home of a relative, and noted that “Bunsong did not have a good background,” but declined to elaborate.

Bunnith’s father-in-law, IBJ Country Manager Ouk Vandeth, said that he was unconvinced by Sam Ol’s version of events, and said that Bunnith may have turned up evidence of Bunsong’s wrongdoing during another investigation.

“I think it was not an accident. He had a plan,” Vandeth said of Bunsong, maintaining that Bunnith’s death was related to his knowledge of the officer’s alleged illegal gambling activities.

Additional reporting by Stuart White

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,