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Couple arrested for hiding gun used in police murder

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A Tbong Khmum couple arrested for aiding a fugitive who murdered a senior police officer. Fresh News

Couple arrested for hiding gun used in police murder

A married couple has been sent to court following their arrest in Treak commune of Tbong Khmum province’s Memot district on January 16 for allegedly hiding the gun used by the suspect in the shooting death of a senior Phnom Penh municipal police official in the capital last month.

Phnom Penh municipal deputy police chief Song Ly said the suspects are a 32-year-old woman and her 31-year-old husband from Dak Por village of Memot district’s Treak commune. They were both sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on January 18.

“We didn’t send them to the provincial court because they are connected to a more serious crime committed in Phnom Penh. Both are involved with illegal possession of weapons,” he said.

Memot district police chief Hong Kim Hoeun said the couple had hidden a weapon used by 38-year-old Ear Naren, who allegedly killed Reth Sinath, the deputy chief of the municipal police’s minor crime bureau, in a homicide that stemmed from a hit-and-run in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district on December 30.

Hoeun said the district authorities had provided support to the Ministry of Interior’s Criminal Police Department and the Phnom Penh municipal police.

Treak commune police chief Preap Phearath said the couple had confessed on January 17 that a few days prior to their arrest, Naren, who was on the run, had visited their home for about three hours.

During the visit, the couple said Naren had handed over one pistol to the husband who buried it under a duck cage behind the house.

Phearath said the couple had previously been in contact with Naren to purchase drugs and that they had made regular appointments with him for this purpose.

The couple, Phearath said, had claimed they did not sell drugs in the area of Treak commune, but had often distributed drugs in other communes within Memot district.

“In the past, we suspected these two were up to something but we couldn’t arrest them because we didn’t have any evidence. But now we’ve got them on charges of storing an illegal weapon and we know they were trafficking drugs. Police confiscated the pistol and also a scale for weighing drugs,” he said.

Kratie province’s Sambo district police chief Bun Chhoeun said the search for Naren was conducted jointly by the interior ministry’s criminal police department and provincial police in Kratie and Stung Treng.

Chhoeun said the operation was divided to search multiple targets because the O’Kandear area in O’Krieng commune’s O’Preah village of Kratie’s Sambo district – where Naren was hiding – was on the border of three provinces.

He said when officers eventually found Naren, they ordered him to surrender but the fugitive opened fire on them instead. The officers then fired back in self-defence, killing him at approximately 5:30pm on January 15.

“Our officers fired in self-defence. One of their bullets struck his head and he died instantly at the scene,” Chhoeun said.

According to the police report, the murder case stemmed from a car accident in Phnom Penh in the early hours of December 30. Naren was with his friend Ke Chanmean, 25, who was driving him home in a Lexus crossover after drinking heavily earlier that night.

When they arrived at the scene on Russian Boulevard near the Phnom Penh International Airport, Chanmean rear-ended Sinath’s pick-up and fled.

Sinath gave chase and pulled them over shortly after. After an argument over restitution, Naren shot Sinath several times before fleeing the scene in the crossover.

The police arrested Chanmean a few days later in Battambang province and sent him to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. He was charged as an accomplice to murder and drug trafficking.

During questioning, Chanmean confessed and identified Naren as the trigger-man in the shooting of Sinath.

Naren was on the run through Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri, and Stung Treng provinces until he was eventually tracked down and killed in Kratie province.

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