Suspected Over Forestry Shooting, Soldier Charged Over Illegal Gun

A Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) soldier was charged on Monday for unauthorized holding or transporting of a weapon and is a suspect in the fatal shooting of a Forestry Administration officer in Kompong Chhnang province last week, a court official said.

Provincial court spokesman Long Sitha said the soldier was being held in provincial prison and was under investigation for murder.

“I will continue to investigate this murder again by myself after the election,” he said, referring to Sunday’s commune elections.

Kong Boeun, deputy provincial prison chief, identified the soldier as 27-year-old Him Sophorn.

The weapons charge carries a prison sentence of six months to three years and a fine of 1 million to 6 million riel, or about $250 to $1,500.

Provincial military police commander Meas Sovann said on Sunday that the soldier had not been involved in the shooting of Sing Hak, 54, who was killed when masked gunmen sprayed bullets through a Forestry Administration office last Tuesday in Toek Phos district’s Kraing Skear commune. Three others were injured.

Mr. Sovann could not be reached on Monday.

Commune chief Kong Sam Em said on Wednesday that he thought the shooting was a hit ordered by a wood trader who became angry when officials halted the transportation of his timber.

Four other detained suspects, including two other RCAF soldiers, have already been released from detention because they were not linked to the shooting, according to Mr. Sitha and provincial police chief Loch Sovannara.

Mr. Sovannara said the suspect’s military-issued AK-47 assault rifle had been sent to National Police headquarters in Phnom Penh to be analyzed. National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith could not be reached.

The bullet casings found at the scene of the shooting were the same type of ammunition used with an AK-47 and the suspect’s weapon appeared to have been fired recently, Mr. Sovannara said.

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