Hun Sen (L) and Chhouk Bandith (R).
Chhay Channyda and David Boyle
Monday, 19 March 2012
Phnom Penh Post
Svay Rieng provincial prosecutor Hing Bunchea has refused to clarify what triple shooting suspect and deposed Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith said to him after contradictory statements from him were printed in different news publications last week.
On Thursday, Hing Bunchea told the Post that Chhouk Bandith had confessed to the shootings, but provided different accounts to other news organisations, which he then reportedly retracted.
The shootings at a protest last month outside the Kaoway Sports Ltd shoe factory in Svay Rieng province put three women in hospital, leaving one victim in serious condition after a bullet went through her chest.
Hing Bunchea was quoted in a newspaper report over the weekend stating that Chhouk Bandith had told him he cocked his gun at the protest but did not know if the weapon had discharged.
A day earlier, Hing Bunchea was quoted as saying Chhouk Bandith had fired his gun into the air.
He refused to elaborate or explain different published accounts of what Chhouk Bandith had reportedly told him, claiming he had been misquoted.
“I will stop talking further, because when I talk, there are newspapers writing incorrectly about my comments,” he said.
The victims, 21-year-old Buot Chinda, 18-year-old Keo Neth and 23-year-old Nuth Sakhorn, will be summonsed to court to give their version of events on March 28, he said.
Nuth Sakhorn’s husband, Sin Sam On, confirmed his wife will go to court to answer questions.
“She was shot [from] behind, so she did not know who shot her. Everybody says he’s the governor and even Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng said it’s him.”
Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Centre, said he was alarmed that inconsistent information coming from the court about the case could be a sign of judicial tampering.
“In Cambodia, it happens quite often – when they prolong the process, they always change the type of charges. I’m afraid they’re thinking of how to drop the charges,” he said.