Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Off-duty cop kills two in capital

Off-duty cop kills two in capital

Authorities man a police line yesterday evening at the scene of a shooting in Phnom Penh that claimed two lives.
Authorities man a police line yesterday evening at the scene of a shooting in Phnom Penh that claimed two lives. Victoria Mørck Madsen

Off-duty cop kills two in capital

An off-duty police officer fatally shot two people and wounded another in Phnom Penh yesterday, during an argument about the cost of street lamps, authorities and eyewitnesses said.

Chuk Lay, 62, chief of village 4 in Tuol Svay Prey I commune, along with his son Lay Bun Hoeun, 18, and nephew Bun Rithy, 30, were collecting money from villagers to install street lights along the local roads to cut down on crime.

Each household had to contribute $50 to cover the cost of a street light in front of their house, said Pov Pidor, the commune police chief.

When Lay got to the house of the suspects, Keo Sovanrith, a policeman with the Ministry of Interior, and his brother Keo Sovannara, the latter said he wouldn’t pay more than $25, leading to an argument. As it escalated, Sovanrith grabbed his AK rifle and opened fire on the trio.

Lay died instantly. His son and nephew were rushed to Calmette Hospital, where Bun Hoeun succumbed to his wounds. Rithy is still alive but in serious condition.

Authorities investigate the scene of a shooting yesterday in Phnom Penh where two people were killed.
Authorities investigate the scene of a shooting yesterday in Phnom Penh where two people were killed. Victoria Mørck Madsen

The suspect’s relatives told authorities that Lay brought a sword to attack Sovanrith’s family members just before the fatal shooting and that Sovanrith was only acting in self-defence. One of Lay’s neighbours, who declined to give his name, corroborated this account.

“I am not sure what was happening, as the village chief insulted his neighbour and went back to his house carrying two samurai swords and started attacking,” said the alleged witness.

Another neighbour, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said that in his 17 years of living in the village, he had never seen Lay’s and Sovanrith’s family engage in a dispute.

“The two parties were good neighbours and never had a dispute before. I think the attack occurred because of a verbal spat,” said the neighbour of the victims.

Some villagers said that they were asked to pay 20,000 riel ($5) in monthly installments, rather than $50 up front. As of yesterday evening, the reasons behind the discrepancy were unclear.

Sovanrith and Sovannara were arrested following the shooting. Police and prosecutors declined to provide any additional details about the attack.

“Now, both suspects were arrested and sent to Phnom Penh municipal police station for further interrogation,” said Pidor. “The bodies were handed to the families and relatives for traditional funerals.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to

  • Locally-trained commercial pilots to lift Cambodia’s aviation standard

    The Kingdom is boosting its civil aviation sector with the establishment of a flight school with a local airline to meet growth demands once air travel recovers At 22, First Officer Reachta Lim is the youngest commercial pilot in Cambodia. He flies with the national flag