Hun Chea, a nephew of Prime Minister Hun Sen and three-star lieutenant general, was sentenced on Wednesday to 18 months in prison in a snap trial the same day he was arrested over a shooting incident near Chea’s house, according to Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Y Rin.
Officials divulged few details about the incident, which took place in Daun Penh district on Tuesday night. Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Chea appeared to have “shot into the air”, but said no one was hurt.
Sok Khemarin, a senior official at the Ministry of Interior, said Chea was arrested by ministry policemen Wednesday morning and sent to court by the afternoon.
“At this period of time, whoever does a shooting spree, we arrest,” Khemarin said.
Chea’s arrest, trial, conviction and sentencing all took place over the course of a few hours on Wednesday – lightning speed by the standards of Cambodia’s sluggish courts.
Judge Ros Piseth handed down the sentence, convicting Chea of making death threats and intentionally damaging property.
It is unclear who Chea may have been threatening or what property he damaged. Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Chuon Sovann confirmed around 10 rounds were fired in the incident.
When asked why authorities moved with such speed, Rin cited a provision that allows the court to open a hearing immediately if the prosecutor has all the evidence needed to convict.
Legal expert Sok Sam Oeun confirmed that such a procedure exists, but said it was used infrequently because “there are very few cases like that”. He declined to comment on whether outside influence could have hastened the case.
Chea, the son of the prime minister's older brother, Hun San, has had trouble with the law in the past. In 2002, Chea and his cousin, Hun To, were charged in a shootout that injured two people, although the case was ultimately dropped due to insufficient evidence. In 2010, the premier made an appeal to him to return to his family after Chea was publicly accused of cheating on his wife and using drugs.
Additional reporting by Daphne Chen