The Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court on September 2 charged a commune police officer with intentional violence with aggravating circumstances for allegedly firing a shot at a 21-year-old man, seriously wounding him.
However, the victim’s family maintains that the police officer’s actions constitute attempted murder, and are calling for him to be charged accordingly.
Nimit commune Deputy Police Chief Rithy Piseth was arrestedon August 31 after the family of the victim, Neang Makara, filed a complaint against him at the provincial court for attempted murder and illegal use of a weapon. The victim was seriously injured in the August 27 shooting, with the bullet entering his back from the left and exiting beneath his right arm.
Provincial court spokesman Teng Samai said September 3 that the investigating judge decided to place Piseth in pre-trial detention at the provincial prison.
“The court has charged [Rithy Piseth] with intentional violence with aggravating circumstances, and illegal use of a weapon,” he said, adding that the defendant had been sent to prison on the evening on September 2.
According to articles 217 and 218 of the Criminal Code, committing an intentional act of violence with aggravating circumstances carries a prison term of 2 to 5 years.
On August 27 at about 10:30pm, the victim was driving a motorbike with his friend riding pillion on their way home from playing Top G and Mobile Games in Nimit commune’s Nimitvillage I, when Makara saw that his friends had been pulled over by a police officer, so he stopped to check on the situation, according to the complaint filed at the court.
“At that time, I came to ask the police officer what was going on,” Makara said in the complaint. “The officer said, ‘How strong are you? Please come if you are daring enough.’”
“I did not reply much and just said that if there is nothing wrong, I have to go home. Then I turned to my motorbike to return home, and the police officer came [behind me] and took out his gun and shot at me,” he said in the complaint.
The victim’s father, Noun Vor, 49, said he was disappointed that the court officials had decided to file a milder charge against Piseth, insisting that the officer had intentionally shot his son, making it an act of attempted murder.
“I think that it seems like a light [charge] because it was an act similar to [attempted] murder,” he said.
“I ask the court to give him a heavy sentence because it was a brutal act,” he said, adding that his son’s gunshot wound was slowly healing.
Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator at rights group Adhoc, said he was pleased officials had arrested the culprit, but the charge does not reflect the severity of the crime.
“The imprisonment of the defendant is necessary in order to prevent him from committing more crimes and harming other people,” he said.
“But we are disappointed because of the severity of the offense — he actually pulled out the gun and shot at a person,” Chankeasaid. “It is very lenient what the court has charged the defendant with.”
Chankea added that he had already prepared a lawyer to defend the victim and seek inculpatory evidence in the case.
“The lawyer will find more evidence of the offense, whether he intentionally used violence or attempted to murder [the victim] to attempt to convince the judge to change the charges,” he said.