Journalist Alleges Officer Opened Fire on Him

A military police officer allegedly fired three bullets from a pistol over the head of a journalist in Kompong Chhnang province on Thursday, a reporter claimed.

Lim Lyheang, 41, who works with the little-known Khmer-language publication Today News, was covering a story on illegally-procured timber being transported to Phnom Penh by train when he was shot at, his colleague Khan Sokhom said by telephone Friday.

Khan Sokhom said that he filed a complaint, on behalf of Lim Lyheang, with the provincial military police, in which he demanded that the officer, Svay Ratha, be prosecuted in court.

Khan Sokhom said he also asked for $10,000 in damages. Lim Hak, chief of the provincial military police criminal bureau, said on Friday that witnesses only saw the man shoot in the air because the train was departing without him on Thursday.

Lim Hak also said that he was not sure if the shooter was in fact a national military police officer, but that the man had boarded the train and traveled to Phnom Penh after the shooting incident.

A case file will be submitted to the court, he added. Information Minister and government spokes­man Khieu Kanharith said Friday that he was aware of the report, adding that journalists “can sue” if they are attacked.

The minister gave similar advice following an incident on Wednesday when a man, who appeared to be a plain-clothes police officer, assaulted a foreign reporter outside the 7NG firm’s offices in Tonle Bassac commune because he had taken a photograph of the office.

Other police officers nearby apparently witnessed the assault but did not intervene.

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