Two accused killers were beaten to death Monday in Pailin by a mob of motorcycle taxi drivers as they were being taken to their trial in Battambang court, police said.
About 200 motorcycle taxi drivers surrounded the car on Route 10 that was taking the two suspects to court. The mob pulled the two from the car and beat them to death, said Chea Chandin, deputy police chief for Pailin municipality.
The two killed were Kong Heang, 21, of Pailin, and Chan Rin, 19, of Kompong Thom province. They had been accused of robbing and killing motorcycle taxi driver Uk Pros, 41, of Pailin, last Friday, Chea Chandin said.
Eight police officers with four AK-47 assault rifles, serving as the suspects’ security escort to the courthouse, could not dispel the angry crowd.
Two of the policemen were slightly injured and their weapons were taken as they tried to hold back the overwhelming mob, Chea Chandin said.
“They dared not shoot—it would frighten the crowd,” he said. “There would be turmoil and more people killed if there were shooting.”
Thirty minutes later, 20 police officers arrived at the scene, but it was too late.
“We have always sent [criminals] to Battambang court and there has never been a problem,” Chea Chandin said. “We certainly never intended to let people kill them. We must take the blame for this—it was our responsibility to protect them, and we failed.”
Kong Kheak, 45, mother of Kong Heang, said she was disappointed in the police. “I am very sad to hear my son was killed, as he was under police protection,” she said.
“[The killings] are a bad example of anarchy for the next generation to follow,” said Suy Sovann, coordinator of the Pailin office for the NGO Vigilance. “They should allow the court to judge whether people are guilty.”
A Pailin municipal official said two more suspects in the robbery and killing remain at large.