A military officer moonlighting as chief of security for a Chinese agricultural company in Kampong Speu province was yesterday charged by the provincial court with illegal weapons use and attempted murder after firing at least five bullets at villagers whose cows were eating the firm’s crops.
Som Sak, chief of the provincial major crimes unit, identified the soldier as Major Hin Sopheap, 46, chief of security for the Slat Sanna Company that grows cassava, soy beans and bananas in Taing Samrong commune.
Mr Sak said the suspect was arrested on Monday and charged yesterday following complaints from villagers in Taing Samrong commune over an incident that took place on Saturday.
On Saturday, the villagers’ cows had wandered onto the company’s lands and began eating its crops, according to Chan Saroeun, a Phnom Sroch district police officer.
While the villagers attempted to steer the cows away from the crops, Mr Sopheap allegedly began chasing the villagers, firing a volley of bullets at them.
“He was angry at the villagers for letting the cows enter the company’s farm,” said Mr Saroeun. “He took his pistol and ran over to shoot them.”
Luckily, none of the bullets hit any of the villagers, Mr Saroeun added.
Mr Saroeun said that after fleeing, the villagers later filed lawsuits against the suspect.
According to villagers’ complaints, in 2015 and 2016 Mr Sopheap shot some of their cows dead over the same issue.
Mr Sopheap faces a minimum of 10 years in prison if convicted. He remains in pre-trial detention.