Prime Minister Hun Sen and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Monday ordered authorities to find justice for the family of Yorn Ravuth, a building contractor who was shot dead by police in Prey Veng province’s Preah Sdech district after being suspected of stealing a car.

Hun Sen and Sar Kheng offered their condolences to Ravuth’s family, with the prime minister saying the man should not have been shot as he was unarmed.

The prime minister was speaking at a graduation ceremony of more than 1,200 students from Phnom Penh International University at the National Institute of Education.

“Even if they are thieves, when we catch them, we must arrest them and not shoot them like this. [We have] arrested one police officer, and there is one left. Authorities must be careful with weapons."

“As I am aware, he had no weapons and raised up his hands up to surrender but was shot several times. This is something to be warned against everywhere. If you do not need to defend yourself [as the perpetrator] has no gun, [you] should not act like this,” Hun Sen said.

His statement came after Minister of Interior Sar Kheng used Facebook to express his regret over the incident and offered his condolences to Ravuth’s family, promising to seek justice for them.

“I would like to share my condolences with the family of the victim and may Yorn Ravuth rest in peace. I promise that justice will be sought for the family of the victim as well as for our nation as a whole,” Sar Kheng said.

They opened fire

Yorn Ravuth, a 32-year-old building contractor working in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, was driving to his hometown in Chhoeu Kach commune in Prey Veng province’s Ba Phnom district on Saturday, with another man named Van Khemrin.

On arriving in Ba Phnom district’s Reakchey commune, Preah Sdech district police received information that the two men had stolen the car. Intercepting the vehicle, they opened fire, killing Ravuth and injuring Khemrin.

An unidentified Preah Sdach district police officer has been detained for the shooting of Yorn Ravuth. FRESH NEWS

Two Preah Sdach district police officers were revealed as being involved in the shooting. An unidentified officer was detained. The other, named as Chim Ratanak, the deputy district police chief in charge of immigration whose father is tycoon Chim Sok, is on the run.

The General Commissariat of the National Police announced that Ravuth and Khemrin were not thieves and that the car Ravuth was driving was in the process of being purchased.

With $3,000 left to pay, the car was rented by its owner, Phann Sody, to a Chinese national. When Ravuth took the car to drive home, a complaint was filed accusing him of having stolen the vehicle.

Prey Veng province police chief Prum Santhor and the provincial deputy police chief in charge of crime Pov Chivy could not be reached for further clarification.

National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun confirmed that one of two police officers involved in shooting Ravuth had been held, while the other had escaped and was still at large as of Monday evening.

“We acknowledge that the operation involving the two officers was not in accordance with police standards. As I understand, it was due to their inexperience in such operations,” he said.