A police officer was charged with manslaughter this morning over the death of Sean Ron, who was shot dead during a botched cockfighting raid, allegedly by a stray police bullet.
Chorn Vireak, a first lieutenant with the Por Sen Chey district police, was charged with “unintentional homicide” under Article 207 of the Cambodian Criminal Code. If convicted, he faces between one and three years in prison and a fine of 2 million to 6 million riel (about $500 to $1,500).
Ly Sophana, Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman, said the charges were laid after “reviewing the documents and evidence, and questioning [the suspect] according to procedure”. Fellow court spokesman Ey Rin said Vireak was not granted bail and was sent to pre-trial detention.
Another district police officer was initially detained and questioned by Phnom Penh Municipal Police but was ultimately released after it was deemed that his weapon was not the one that fired the fatal bullet on Sunday.
The victim, Ron, was standing on the third floor outside his home when a bullet struck him in the throat. He died within minutes.
Witnesses estimate five or six police officers had entered the open space below and fired up to 20 shots in the air to silence a crowd of some 70 gamblers at a cockfighting ring, which are illegal despite their prevalence.
District Police Chief Yim Saran, whose forces carried out the operation in Choam Chao II commune, suggested yesterday that while his officers are usually not permitted to fire their weapons during such operations, the crackdown was “chaotic” and his officers “dropped” their weapons.
Saran did not answer his phone today.
Ron’s widow, Nop Sophanny, said today that the manslaughter charge was a small step towards justice for her and her two young children, aged 5 and 2.
“I think it is fair for me if that person is sentenced to jail, regardless of whether it is one year or three years,” she said. “I know that it was unintentional, but I still wonder why they cracked down on that day?” she said, explaining that while gambling happened at the site every day, Sunday was the day when her husband and other factory workers relaxed at home.
“I do not want to file a complaint or make it bigger. Even if I file a complaint, that will not bring my husband back.”