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PM bodyguard, police officer tried

PM bodyguard, police officer tried

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried a former member of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit along with a former military police officer accused of shooting and injuring a 25-year-old man in the capital’s Chamkarmon district last year.

Second Lieutenant Ouk Sopharith, then a member of the prime minister’s elite bodyguard unit, and former military police officer Sok Kong were arrested by Chamkarmon district military police for the alleged shooting of Koam Vitou, a 25-year-old student, in July of last year.

“They had allegedly shot and seriously injured a man at about 1am on July 13, 2012,” presiding judge Kor Vandy said. “After the shooting, they had driven their motorbike to drink beer at a Starmart located nearby.”

Alerted by the victim, the police found the suspects drinking at the Starmart at about 4:30am and subsequently confiscated a pistol, six bullets and the motorbike, Vandy added.

The suspects were charged with attempted murder.

In testimony, Vitou said he and three friends were drinking at the Luxury World Night Club in Chamkarmon’s Tuol Svay Prey I commune on the night of the shooting.

While dancing, the men had argued with another group, who allegedly infringed on their dance floor turf.

The club’s security guards then intervened and removed the men from the club.

“When I left Luxury World Night Club and was driving home with my friends, there were two men following who were members of the other group from the night club,” Vitou said.

“They rammed their motorbike into my motorbike, knocking it over.  Immediately, one of them shot two bullets at me, and one bullet hit my right hip.

“After shooting me, they sped away from the scene.”

Sopharith and Kong both denied the accusations in court.

On the night of the shooting, they said, they had been drinking at a friend’s house in Tuol Kork.

“I did not know or have anything to do with his case,” Sopharith said. “I was only the victim of the accusation and arrest. I would like to ask the court to drop the charges and release me.”

Deputy chief prosecutor Top Chhunlong appeared to agree.

“According to the security guards of Luxury World Night Club, they did not see these two accused persons going to drink or dance at the nightclub,” he said.

“Additionally, the shells of bullets that were collected by police . . . did not match those in the pistol of the suspect.”

Verdicts will be handed down on July 4.

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