A former police officer whose warning shot at the floor struck a pregnant woman while he was demanding money from a gambling den owner in Phnom Penh last year was on Friday sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Im Vannak, presiding judge at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, convicted and sentenced Bou You Heng, 28, to 10 years in prison for attempted murder and unauthorized weapons possession.
Judge Vannak said that on August 14, Mr You Heng attempted to extort $10 from a gambling den owner in Tuol Sangke commune, where he fired his pistol at the floor when the owner refused to pay for “protection”.
The bullet ricocheted off the floor and struck a pregnant woman nearby the gambling den, causing serious injuries.
After the incident, police initially reported that Mr You Heng was unemployed and had bought a pistol and police uniform off the black market, disguising himself as a policeman in an attempt to extort money.
Sok Vibol, a Phnom Penh military police officer, said after the incident that the suspect disguised himself as a policeman.
“He did not have any real job but disguised himself as a police officer,” he said. “He bought a pistol, a police radio and police uniform from the black market in Phnom Penh in order to extort money from those who have illegally opened online gambling shops or other illegal gambling dens in the city.”
But judge Vannak on Friday confirmed that Mr You Heng was actually employed by the municipal police’s criminal investigation department at the time of the shooting, noting he lost his position after his arrest.
Judge Vannak said that after the failed extortion attempt and botched warning shot, Mr You Heng fled to Kampong Cham province, where he was arrested by military police five days later.
“The court sentences him to 10 years in prison,” judge Vannak said on Friday. “The court orders him to pay 10 million riel [about $2,500] in compensation to the plaintiff [the pregnant woman].”
During Friday’s trial, Mr You Heng admitted to his actions, saying that he was angry the owner of the gambling den did not give him the $10 because he had paid him the protection fee many times before.
“I did not intend to shoot the victim,” he told the court. “I just fired at the ground in order to threaten the owner of the gambling shop. I did not know that the bullet hit the victim.”
Teang Chansar, chief of Russey Keo district police, said the woman who was hit by the bullet made a full recovery in the months following the shooting.
“She already delivered a healthy baby,” he said yesterday.