An examination conducted on the body of a Phnom Penh police officer who died last week after being poisoned while drinking beer with colleagues at their police station, found an amphetamine type stimulant (ATS) in the dead officer’s urine, the victim’s father said yesterday. Police officials, however, are yet to publicly confirm the substance that killed the officer, made four other officers sick, and led to the arrest of their boss.
Tim Saroem, the victim’s father and an ex-police officer himself, claimed one of the doctors from Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital had confirmed that his son, Tim Titya, 37, died after being drugged while drinking with his colleagues last Tuesday.
“According to the doctor, they found amphetamines [when they] tested my dead son’s urine,” Mr Saroem said by telephone yesterday.
Mr Titya, a second lieutenant from the municipal minor crimes division, died as he was rushed to the hospital last Tuesday afternoon after becoming ill while drinking beer at a party organized by his boss, Deputy Municipal Minor Crime Police Chief Neang Sokna.
On Saturday, Mr Sokna was charged with the unintentional murder for allegedly poisoning Mr Titya, Phnom Penh Municipal Court Deputy Prosecutor Sok Roeun said.
“Mr Neang Sokna will be suspended from his position according to article 51 of the civil servant and government administration law,” Mr Roeun said, adding that Mr Sokna was being held in pretrial detention at PJ prison.
Yesterday, municipal penal police chief Chuon Naren could not confirm the substance that had killed Mr Titya and sickened the other officers.
“The documents have already been sent to the court, so I can not say,” Mr Naren said.
However, a municipal minor crime police officer, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the case, confirmed that doctors had found amphetamines in the urine of Mr Titya’s corpse.
While many questions remain unanswered regarding the motive for the poisoning, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak, said the investigation into the matter was over.
“We have already investigated,” he said. “[Mr Sokna] will be punished by Cambodian law.”
Last week, Mr Saroem said that three days before his death, his son had told him that he had been planning on moving out of his police unit, away from Mr Sokna. Yesterday, Mr Saroem said that would not accept the charge of unintentional murder, saying he believed the murder of his son was intentional.
Mr Saroem also said that officers who had been drinking at last Tuesday’s party, held at their police station in Daun Penh district’s Chaktomuk commune, told him that Mr Sokna had been the one to hand drinks to his son.
“It is real evidence that my son was poisoned by his boss, because my son’s boss exchanged his glass of beer…to drink two times” Mr Saroem said, adding that his family had also found inconsistent evidence when cleaning Mr Titya’s body for the funeral.
“My son was cut on his lip, one tooth was broke and [in] his throat there were two [pieces of] cotton…inserted into his throat.”
The poisoning is the latest in a list of drug-related scandals involving the country’s police force.
In October, Touch Muysor, Phnom Penh’s anti-drug police chief, was charged and suspended from duty on suspicion of possessing amphetamine pills and accepting bribes from drug dealers in return for letting them go.
In April 2008, an anti-human trafficking police officer, Kep Samon, shot five anti-drug police officers—killing two—after they conducted a drug raid at his guesthouse room in Phnom Penh.
In August 2007, an adviser to National Assembly and CPP honorary president Heng Samrin allegedly jumped to his death from the second story of the Anti-Drug Police Department building. At the time of his death plunge, the adviser, Oum Chhay, was in the custody of police after having been arrested for allegedly aiding in the transportation of four tons of chemicals to a drug laboratory in Kompong Speu province.