Official Turns Himself In After Domestic Dispute Sparked Shooting

An Interior Ministry officer who repeatedly fired his AK-47 assault rifle into the air in Phnom Penh following a drink-fueled argument with his wife handed himself in Monday after he had fled the scene, officials said.

Svay Pisith, 34, turned up at the ministry’s department of identification, where he works, Monday afternoon after being contacted by his office, said Mao Soeuth, deputy police chief in Chbar Ampov district, where the incident occurred.

Mr. Pisith left the scene of the shooting on Sunday evening in his car with his rifle in hand, according to Mr. Soeuth, who said the officer began drinking with friends at his house, where one-and-a-half cases of beer were consumed.

During questioning by district police, Mr. Pisith said he had fired his rifle because he was angry at his wife, he added.

“He was angry with his wife, because when he was having drinks with his friends, he invited his wife to join him drinking beer, but his wife refused,” Mr. Soeuth said. “He went to karaoke and when he came back, his wife was drinking beers with the neighbors.”

“Then his wife spoke sarcastically that she didn’t drink beer, she only drank wine,” he added.

Mr. Pisith told police he could not remember how many times he fired his pistol into the air, Mr. Soeuth added. Five bullet casings were found at the scene; no one was injured.

The officer, who has not been charged, was due to be detained overnight at the district police station, Mr. Soeuth said, before being sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today if the case was ready.

It was unclear what punishment or disciplinary procedures he might face.

In October last year, a commune police chief in Mondolkiri province fired his AK-47 at the sky during a drunken dispute with his wife and was later demoted.

Mao Chandara, director-general of the Interior Ministry’s identification department, said Mr. Pisith had been working there for more than two years and was a fine officer, blaming alcohol for his recent behavior.

“He is a normal human being; he doesn’t have any issues,” he said. “But for this, maybe the alcohol made him stupid.”

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