Poipet border official Chhean Pisith, who drew widespread ridicule in December for flopping in front of a barely moving SUV being driven by an opposition activist, was dismissed from his position on Monday after allegedly shooting a colleague and fleeing to a foreign country, officials said.
Interior Minister Sar Kheng, moving quickly to deal with the errant major, signed a letter to remove Mr. Pisith from the National Police and strip him of his position and rank, ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said.
Mr. Pisith’s salary will also be cut as of this month, according to a proclamation released on Monday.
“Samdech Kralahorm [Sar Kheng] signed a proclamation…firing him from the National Police,” General Sopheak said, adding that Mr. Pisith—who is thought to be on the run abroad—would be sent to court once apprehended and “prosecuted in accordance with the law.”
Mr. Pisith, the deputy chief of the Poipet International Border Checkpoint, fled his post on Sunday after allegedly shooting Sem Makara, head of the checkpoint’s administration bureau, due to an ongoing spat between two other border officers that began on Friday.
According to an Interior Ministry statement released on Sunday, the conflict began when border officer Nov Lyda was called a “slave” by colleague Kim Keo Reaksa.
The argument escalated over the weekend and nearly ended in a physical fight between the two men on Sunday.
Mr. Makara, the eventual victim of the shooting, called a meeting to discuss the altercation, which was attended by Mr. Pisith and Mr. Keo Reaksa, according to the statement.
When Mr. Makara returned to the office at about 8:45 a.m. after going to seek the help of the Poipet border chief, Sim Sam Ath, to resolve the matter, he was shot in the shoulder by Mr. Pisith, causing a minor graze.
Mr. Sam Ath declined to comment on the case on Monday.
Keo Vannthan, deputy director and spokesman for the Interior Ministry’s general department of immigration, said that his department had requested for Mr. Pisith to be fired.
Mr. Keo Reaksa’s fate would be determined during a review at a later date, he added.
“We took action on the perpetrator first,” he said.
Officials on Monday would not confirm the whereabouts of Mr. Pisith, with Gen. Sopheak stating only that the suspect was thought to be in a “foreign country.”
“We are cooperating with authorities in that country requesting his arrest,” he said.
Mr. Makara, the victim, had previously said that Mr. Pisith fled to Thailand.
Mr. Pisith courted controversy in December after video footage of him dramatically falling in front of a slowly rolling SUV being driven by opposition activist Mang Puthy went viral across social media. The footage later shows him being taken to a hospital in Thailand wearing a neck brace.
Mr. Pisith said he was injured, but witnesses at the scene said he appeared to be play-acting when he fell to the ground.
soumy@cambodiadaily.com
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