A policeman in Svay Rieng province is denying allegations that he shot into a crowd of demonstrators in Bavet town last year, an incident in which three women were injured and have pursued a case against the governor of the city for allegedly pulling the trigger.
The provincial court dropped charges against the former governor Chhouk Bandith, last month, and provincial personnel from the Ministry of Interior questioned the policeman, Sar Chantha, on Monday.
Sar Chantha, who is the chief of penal police in Bavet, told VOA Khmer Tuesday he was inside the factory, about 500 meters away from the protesters, when they were fired upon. Sar Chantha said he was ordered by his chief to watch over the fire engine and not to disperse the protesters. “I was holding only a baton, and I have no gun,” he said. “How could I shoot a garment worker?”
Protesters say the assailant was in fact Chhouk Bandith, but the courts have dropped charges against him in favor of Sar Chantha. Rights groups say Chhouk Bandith’s powerful connections led to the dismissal of the charges.
Interior ministry officials in Svay Rieng declined or could not be reached for comment. Hing Bunchea, Svay Rieng’s prosecutor, said the case would be passed on to the Court of Appeals.