B Meanchey Prison Denies Receiving Shooting Suspect

The head of Banteay Meanchey Provincial Prison said yesterday that he had no knowledge of a man whom provincial police claimed to have sent to the prison in connection with the Nov 20 shooting death of a Serei Saophoan City man.

The human rights organization Adhoc accused authorities of trying to cover up the case.

Provincial Adhoc coordinator Soum Chankea yesterday said Phuon Theam, 18, was driving a homemade truck carrying five of his friends through Malai district’s Takong commune at approximately 12:30 am when military police ordered him to stop. According to some of the friends, Mr Chankea said, Theam failed to bring the truck to an immediate stop because the road was muddy, at which point one of the officers allegedly shot and killed Mr Theam.

“We conducted the investigation, and the military officer truly shot the victim,” Mr Chankea said.

Mr Chankea added that the witnesses also saw the officer, whom he identified as Van La, immediately flee the scene.

“My son was shot in his back through the left side of his chest,” said the victim’s father, Som Phuon, who added that he had yet to hear from authorities whether anyone had been arrested in connection to the case.

Provincial military police commander Rath Srieng yesterday said his officers had in fact arrested a suspect in the case and sent him to prison, but he declined to identify the man or provide any dates.

“We have sent him to provincial prison,” he said, before refusing to comment further.

But Thean Chhorvoan, the provincial prison’s acting director, said yesterday that he had received no such suspect.

Deputy provincial military police commander Ork Boring declined to discuss the case.

“We will solve the problem by the law,” he said. “I don’t want to speak with reporters any more.”

Deputy prosecutor Tan Seihak Dechak said he heard the case had been sent over on Wednesday but had not seen the file because Judge Ang Mealtey, the court’s president, had yet to assign it to a judge.

“We have not studied the case yet,” he said. “Maybe tomorrow.”

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