A 16-year-old inmate from Kampot provincial prison died Wednesday night of an undetermined illness, a Ministry of Interior official said Friday, as a provincial human rights worker accused the prison of not acting quickly enough to save the inmate.
Heng Hak, general director of the Interior Ministry’s prison department, said Sam Phearun reported feeling tired and dizzy and became unconscious before he was taken to the provincial hospital for treatment Wednesday.
“I don’t think it was too late. When [Sam Phearun] was tired and dizzy the prison guard took him to the prison health center, but he was unconscious before he reached it and then they immediately sent him to the provincial referral hospital,” Mr Hak said, adding that the hospital could not save the inmate.
Yun Phally, a prison researcher for local rights groups Licadho, said that Sam Phearun’s death certificate states the teenager died before he reached the hospital.
“He was too late to bring for treatment in the hospital. This is the carelessness of the prison director and prison guard. They did not pay a lot of attention to take care of the prisoner’s health,” he said.
Sam Phearun, he said, was sentenced in October 2008 to 30 months in prison following a robbery conviction. He had only 7 months in prison before his release.
Dr Lam Sovannara, of Kampot provincial referral hospital, confirmed that Sam Phearun was dead before he reached the hospital.
Poch Bunrith, the Kampot provincial prison director, could not be reached for comment.
Mr Hak defended the prison system’s record on taking care of ill prisoners.
“In general, when the prisoners feel sick and request to check their health the prison guard brings them to the health center. In cases where they have serious illness they don’t need to ask, the prison guard brings them the provincial referral hospital,” he said.