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Taxi driver shot by Ministry of Defence colonel in alleged pistol 'malfunction'

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Taxi driver Chum Kea (right) and his wife Sam Sophoan, before Kea regained consciousness following surgery after being shot by a military colonel in Phnom Penh. Khouth Sophak Chakrya

Taxi driver shot by Ministry of Defence colonel in alleged pistol 'malfunction'

A 40-year-old taxi driver in Phnom Penh underwent surgery at Calmette Hospital this morning to remove a bullet from his left side after he was allegedly shot - on accident - by a drunken colonel from the Ministry of Defence.

Chum Kea, who works for Preah Khan Reach Company, was shot at 3:30am on Tuesday morning when he was driving Pen Sayoan, 34, a colonel at the Ministry of Defence’s General Department of Technical Material, said Kret Sakarin, police chief for Prampi Makara district. Sayoan was arrested this morning and was being questioned.

Sakarin said the suspect was drunk at the time and would be sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court for further procedures.

“In the taxi, authorities found a pistol bullet casing and two packets of drugs, and there was a hole from behind [the driver’s seat] and blood stains,” he said, identifying the drug as yaba. “But according to the suspect, the shooting [was] caused by a pistol malfunction, not intended murder.”

Following his surgery this morning, Kea said from his room in the Intensive Care Unit that as they approached the suspect’s home while driving back from a club, Sayoan told him to stop and asked him if he had seen his gun, which he had apparently lost. A gunshot quickly followed.

Initially, Kea said, he was afraid of the suspect and refused an offer to take him to the hospital because he thought he might kill him. Though, Sayoan later “hugged” him, apologised and gave him $100.

“However, I think that only he and God know whether he wanted to shoot me or not,” he said.

Kea’s wife, Sam Sophana, said her husband’s condition remained serious as the bullet had pierced through the intestine and had also affected the bladder.

“Now, I have not thought about filing [a] complaint, but I am in need of aid from the suspect and compensation from the suspect’s family so that I can pay for my husband’s treatment,” she said.

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