The driver of a Lexus crossover who was involved in the shooting death of a senior police official following a hit-and-run in the capital late last month has been placed in pre-trial detention.

Ke Chanmean – a 24-year-old resident of Ansa commune’s Anlong Vil village in Pursat province’s Kandieng district – was charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court with conspiracy to commit murder and drug trafficking.

The victim was identified in the police report as Reth Sineth, 40, a deputy chief of the municipal police’s minor crime bureau. Sineth was first shot in his back and then again through the forehead.

According to the report, Chanmean was driving the alleged shooter, Ear Naren, home in a black Lexus crossover after drinking heavily on the night of December 29. When arriving at the scene in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district near the Phnom Penh International Airport, Chanmean rear-ended Sineth’s Ford pick-up truck. The suspects then fled the scene, prompting Sineth to give chase.

After a heated argument over restitution, Naren shot Sineth to death.

Chanmean was later arrested in Battambang province’s Tuol Ta Ek commune on January 4 while Naren remained at large.

Municipal court spokesman Kuch Kimlong confirmed on January 9 that Chanmean was charged by municipal court deputy prosecutor Chhay Hong and referred to Investigating Judge Li Sokha for further action.

Phnom Penh municipal police chief Sar Thet could not be reached for comment on January 10.

The National Police’s head of criminal police department, Ngeng Chou, declined to provide details, saying the police are still investigating the case and searching for the alleged shooter.