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Premier finally speaks out on Chhouk Bandith

Premier finally speaks out on Chhouk Bandith

Breaking his long silence on the case, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday called on police to bring to justice the former Bavet town governor and convicted gunman Chhouk Bandith.

“In the case of Chhouk Bandith, if police do not arrest him, they are wrong,” he said. “There is a red notice from Interpol. There must be arrests.”

Hun Sen’s comments came in response to the issuance of the Interpol red notice in March, and after Bandith’s three victims – garment workers whom he shot in front of hundreds of witnesses during a protest – petitioned parliament last week.

Sar Chantha, the former deputy police chief of Bavet town, was jailed in May in connection with the shooting at the Kaoway Sports factory in the Svay Rieng border town.

Bandith was sentenced to 18 months in prison in June 2013, but remains in hiding.

Kirt Chantharith, deputy National Police chief, insisted in a post on the force’s website last week that the police had “never ignored” Bandith’s conviction.

But victim Nuth Sakhorn yesterday said that while the prime minister’s comments were a positive sign, she doubted that it would signal an end to impunity for Bandith.

“I’m happy to hear the prime minister’s words for the first time, because when he speaks, the police work,” she said.

“But Bandith has not yet been arrested, and we don’t hold out hope that justice will prevail.”

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