Apart from the charge of premeditated murder, which carries a sentence of life imprisonment, Srey Sina is facing charges of possession and illegal use of a weapon as well. The former Oknha was also stripped of his honourific title by a June 20 Royal Decree issued by King Norodom Sihamoni.

National Police deputy chief and Phnom Penh Municipal Police chief Chuon Narin, who led the investigation into the case, told reporters that after arresting the suspects, the Phnom Penh Municipal Police collected evidence and witnesses related to the murder.

"Firstly, the crime was flagrant and indisputable. Secondly, to ensure the weight of the charges and avoid any disputes or defences, we have gathered witnesses and evidence from and around the crime scene to reinforce all elements of the premeditated murder charge," he said.

"Premeditated murder is the cruelest crime. In this case, it resulted in the loss of two lives and injuries to two others. It was a premeditated murder, and the deaths and injuries to others is an aggravating burden," he added.

According to Article 200 of the Criminal Code, “premeditated murder” is defined as murder committed with prior planning or by ambush. Premeditation involves a plan conceived in advance to make an attempt against the victim.

It adds that an ambush consists of the act of lying in wait for another person with a view to committing acts of violence against them.

“Premeditated murder shall be punishable by life imprisonment,” it reads.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Police sent the case to the criminal department of the National Police for further legal action.

Narin said the department decided to charge a total of three people, including Sina (the gunman) and two accomplices. He noted that one accomplice took the perpetrator to the scene to commit the crime, and the other helped Sina escape from the scene in a car.

“For this case, we have clear evidence to charge those who facilitated the suspect's escape and prepared for the crime. Both [men who gave Sina] the means to reach the scene and the means to commit the crime have been arrested. It is sufficient for the case,” he said.[SD1] 

In addition, the tycoon is facing charges of storing and using an illegal weapon.

“With consideration, the weapon that [Sina] used appears to be illegal. He seemed to have permission to use it before, but it is now expired. This constitutes illegal possession of a gun, which carries a minor sentence. However, the more severe charge is committing premeditated murder,” he said.

Touch Sokhak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said only forces within the ministry with the rank of colonel or higher are authorised to possess weapons. He noted this also includes other civil servants such as district, capital and provincial governors, department directors or directors-general.

He stressed that citizens who do not have a role within this framework are not entitled to use weapons, as defined in the Law on the Management of Weapons, Explosives and Ammunition.

“Ordinary people, including the [former] Oknha, who are not in public service roles, have not received legal concessions to use weapons. Therefore, his use, storage and possession of the weapon are illegal,” Sokhak said.

“So, there is the crime of using or possessing an illegal weapon in addition to the crime he committed in connection with the murder,” he added.

He highlighted that the legal use of weapons is to protect security, safety and social order, and they can also be used in self-defence if necessary. However, the use of self-defense must be proportional; the gunman should be freed from criminal accusations only if the other party also has a gun.

Sokhak declined to elaborate on the source of the gun Sina possessed because the case is still under investigation, and revealing such details could affect the effectiveness of the ongoing probe.

He also explained why the police did not immediately handcuff Sina. He said that suspects are not always handcuffed, particularly when there is not enough evidence yet and when the court has not decided if the person is guilty.

“We did not yet have strong evidence that this person was the gunman or a murderer. We just followed the target to see if he was part of the group that may have committed the crime,” Sokhak said.

“We only suspected him, so we asked for his cooperation. [In the video] we see him standing bravely, showing that he was not a target of the police,” he added.

After that, he said the police asked him to get into a car and took him to a police station for further questioning.

“When the police arrived at the station, they professionally interrogated him until he confessed that he had indeed committed the crime. Immediately, the police handcuffed him with his hands behind his back,” Sokhak added.

He stressed that before Sina was handcuffed, the police did not have access to security camera footage from the scene because they did not have the password to immediately access the footage. They are continuing to search for the code to review all camera images as additional evidence.

Yong Kim Eng, president of the People's Centre for Development and Peace (PDP Centre), said if there is any legal permission for a tycoon or an individual to use a weapon, the state should review and revise it as the individual may not have a clear understanding on the use of firearms.

“If he stole or bought it illegally, he must receive harsher punishment. We also need to punish those who provided the weapon to him illegally,” he said.

“The sale and possession of weapons in an anarchic manner pose a high risk to social security, which the state must monitor and control,” he added.

Narin stated that for civilians, the possession, storage and use of explosive weapons are completely illegal.

He said in addition to restricting and controlling the proper use of weapons by police officials who are authorised to use them, expert police are working hard to investigate and control the transport of illegal weapons.

Srey Sina, 50, and two of his accomplices were sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court to continue legal action related to the gunshots that killed two people and injured two others in Borey Peng Huoth at Boeung Snor, Niroth commune in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district.