Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cop gets 10 years in capital shooting deaths

Cop gets 10 years in capital shooting deaths

People gather around the site of a police investigation in Phnom Penh where three people were shot in December of last year.
People gather around the site of a police investigation in Phnom Penh where three people were shot in December of last year. Victoria Mørck Madsen

Cop gets 10 years in capital shooting deaths

A Phnom Penh police officer was sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday for fatally shooting three men, one of whom was a vilage chief, over a dispute about the cost of street lights.

Keo Sovannarith, 27, a second lieutenant at the Ministry of Interior’s public order department, was found guilty of murdering Chuk Lay, 62, chief of Village 4 in Tuol Svay Prey I commune, as well as his son Bun Loeun, 18, and nephew Bun Rithy, 30, with an AK rifle in December, while he was off duty.

Despite the verdict and sentence, Sovannarith will continue to hold the rank of police officer – with his police ID and a permit for gun ownership intact – until he exhausts his appeal options, according to Sek Phoumy, director of the central department of public order.

The murder weapon, however, will be returned to the state.

On December 16 , Chuk Lay, his son and nephew approached Sovannarith and his brother, Sovannara, asking for $50 from each family to install street lights in the capital’s Chamkarmon district.

Sovannarith reportedly refused the sum, instead offering half that amount. The quarrel flared up when Lay’s son and nephew armed themselves with samurai swords and attacked the brothers, slicing Sovannarith on the head, shoulder, back and hand.

Sovannarith then opened fire on the trio, killing Lay instantly. His son and nephew died from their injuries in hospital.

Mak Bunna, the defendant’s lawyer, said the 10-year jail term was not a just result for his client.

“He was defending himself. It is normal to defend ourselves; if he gave in to the other side, they would have killed him,” Bunna said.

The relatives of the deceased had withdrawn their complaint against the perpetrator, but prosecutor Hor Lina continued with the case, saying the rifle used for self-defence was not proportionate to the swords.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Siem Reap’s Angkor Botanical Garden opens

    The Angkor Botanical Garden was officially opened on May 19 with free entry for both local and international visitors for the first six weeks. The garden was established on a nearly 15ha plot of land in Siem Reap. “After the first six weeks, Angkor Botanical Garden

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub

  • Hun Sen: Don’t react to hostility

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urged tolerance and thanked members of the Cambodian diaspora for not reacting to the hostility on display towards him by others while he was in the US to attend the May 12-13 ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington, DC. In an audio