Civil Aviation Official Sacked over Gun Use

This conbined photo shows Prime Minister Hun Sen and Bel Vanndeth​. Photo: PM Hun Sen's Facebook and social media

PHNOM PENH – A senior official of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) has been removed from his position for using a weapon to intimidate a citizen in late March, according to a sub-decree dated April 10.

On March 29, SSCA Deputy Director General Bel Vanndeth​ chased a car that had honked at him into Borey Chip Mong, in Russey Keo district.

Once he caught up with it, the SSCA official, reportedly furious with the car’s driver, pulled out an illegally-owned gun and pointed it at the motorist’s head, threatening to kill him, before fleeing the scene.

The altercation was captured on the victim’s dashboard camera in the car, which allowed local police to identify the gun owner and arrest him within hours.

On April 3, Vanndeth appeared in court on charges of unauthorized holding of weapons and issuing death threats. But he was only placed under judicial supervision and could freely step out of the court.

“If the court does not take legal action, let me impose State discipline first,” Prime Minister Hun Sen said when ordering the publication of the sub-decree terminating Vanndeth’s position.

“You used your power to intimidate the weak,” he added.

He stressed that the decision was a warning to all officials not to use their power to harm the weak, and especially not to use illegal weapons.

“The Minister of Justice should work with the court to prevent those who illegally use firearms from being kept out of jail before trial as they may pose a threat to others,” Hun Sen said.

Justice Ministry Spokesperson Chin Malin said the prime minister, as the head of the government, can take​ administrative action to withdraw any official from their position.

“The Ministry of Justice can intervene and facilitate legal action through prosecutors for the temporary detention [of the perpetrators] for further action,” he said.


Teng Yalirozy contributed to the story.

Related Articles