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Bavet Mayor Identified As Suspect in Bloody Shooting

An unidentified garment worker lying on a hospital bed with multiple gunshot wounds to her back. On Thursday police identified the mayor of Bavet town Chhouk Bandit as the prime suspect.

Police identified the mayor of Bavet town Chhouk Bandit on Thursday as the prime suspect in the shooting of three women factory workers in Svay Rieng province last week.

“Yes, [he] is the suspect,” Interior Minister Sar Kheng said in response to a question from journalists.

Witnesses said the suspect stepped out of his car, pulled out a hand gun from his waist and opened fire on a crowd of over 1,000 protesters who were demanding a pay raise and better working conditions on Feb. 20.

Three workers were wounded and remain in hospital on Thursday. They were from Kaoway Sports factory which supplies sportswear giant PUMA.

Police have already submitted their investigation report to Svay Rieng provincial court, according to Interior Ministry Spokesman Gen. Khieu Sopheak.

Judge Pech Chhoeut, president of the court, could not be reached for comment.

But Hem Saban, deputy provincial police chief, said the suspect has not been arrested yet and local media have reported that Chhouk Bandit went back to work as normal after the incident.

“If he was a simple citizen, he would be arrested on the spot,” said Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator at Licadho rights group.