A reporter who works for a little known newspaper in a western Cambodian province filed a court complaint against a local police officer on Monday for threatening to kill him if he published stories about the official firing at villagers’ homes for fun while he was drunk.
Ouk Touch, who is based in Pailin province which borders Thailand, told RFA’s Khmer Service that he filed the complaint a day after officer Kear Sokhorn brandished an AK-47 rifle at the reporter’s home and warned him not to write articles about the shots he fired at villagers’ houses on April 4.
The four bullets he shot hit the walls of the houses, and none of the occupants suffered injuries, Ouk Touch said.
Ouk Touch said Kear Sokhorn sought him out after he investigated the shooting incident to write a report about it for the Kampuchea Development Newspaper.
“He told me that his boss didn’t mind [that he fired at the villagers’ houses], so why should I care about it,” Ouk Touch said.
Nhek Thol, police chief of Sala Krav district, where the shootings occurred, said authorities were moving to prosecute Kear Sokhorn for firing at the villagers’ houses.
“As the first step, I am working to discipline him,” he told RFA. “I am working on the case.”
Ying Mengly, the Battambang provincial coordinator for the domestic rights group Adhoc, called the incident a serious human rights violation and abuse of press freedom.
He said police officers cannot use weapons to threaten reporters and keep them from publishing stories, and urged local authorities to take legal action against Kear Sokhorn.
“Some bad officers try to hide information from the press,” he said. “They use their power to stop the news.”
Reported by Hour Hum for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.