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Officers queried on shootings

Garment workers and civilians face off against authorities during a violent clash on Veng Sreng Boulevard earlier this month in Phnom Penh
Garment workers and civilians face off against authorities during a violent clash on Veng Sreng Boulevard earlier this month in Phnom Penh. POST STAFF

Officers queried on shootings

Military police officers involved in the clash on Veng Sreng Boulevard that led to the deaths of at least four protesters earlier this month have been questioned in connection with the shootings, though none will face charges, a military police spokesman said yesterday.

The five officers, whose names and positions are unknown, were questioned about their role in the violence at Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week, Brigadier General Kheng Tito said.

“They were already questioned by the prosecutor last week,” he told the Post. “They were summonsed by the prosecutor to give their explanations about the violent clash that happened between the violent protesters and our military police forces.”

He added that the five men were not accused of committing a crime as they were acting in self-defence.

Major General Rath Sreang, commander of Phnom Penh Municipal Military Police, declined to comment.

Prum Phearom, 22, who was wounded in the leg by police gunfire during the January 3 clash, said yesterday that the questioning was strictly for appearances.

“The court has just called them for questioning in order to show the international community they made an effort to investigate,” he said. “But I know that they will not bring the real shooters to trial, because they [the investigators] are not independent.”

Chhan Soveth, deputy head of rights group Adhoc’s human rights and legal aid division, said a deeper investigation was needed into who gave the order to shoot, if one was given.

“To find the truth and real justice for the victims, I think the court should conduct deeper research and an investigation about this case … because until now, we do not know who were the killers or who has killed the victims,” he said.

On January 3, at least four people were killed and more than 40 injured during clashes between riot police and protesting workers on Veng Sreng Boulevard.

Sok Sam Oeun, a veteran lawyer and director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said the questioning of the five military police officers would not bring justice for the victims and their families.

“If they investigate like that, I don’t believe they can find answers. They must also investigate the commander who gave the order to shoot. They [the five officers] will deny everything. The investigation must be made by forensic experts,” Sam Oeun said yesterday.

He added that the wealth of video and photographic evidence available from the incident should be used as evidence in court proceedings.

“Find out who had a gun during that time. There are a lot of video clips on the internet; they must look at them. There are lots of videos and photos. We can see that police pointed guns at demonstrators – they should make use of this evidence,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KHOUTH SOPHAK CHAKRYA

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