Two men were arrested in Prey Veng province on Friday for repeatedly dunking a 14-year-old boy’s head in a container of water after he apparently stole four coconuts from their property, according to local police officials.
Heng Vanny, 28, was apprehended at his home in Pea Reang district along with his brother, Heng Dane, 34, after he posted a picture to his Facebook account on Thursday of the boy with his hands tied behind his back and his head fully immersed in water.
Another photograph showed a man holding the boy’s head by the hair after pulling him from a large water jar.
The photographs quickly went viral, with even Prime Minister Hun Sen’s daughter Hun Mana sharing them on her Facebook page and appealing to police to immediately arrest the men for torturing the boy.
District police chief Oum Vantha said police heard about the incident on Facebook and tracked down Mr. Vanny to Kompong Popil commune through this phone repair business. The pair are currently being held in custody.
“Heng Dane confessed that he went to his farm [on Thursday] and saw the boy in the coconut tree picking coconuts,” Mr. Vantha said.
“He told the boy to climb down and tied his hands up behind his back and pushed his head into a pot filled with water.”
Mr. Vantha said that the second suspect, Mr. Vanny, stood back and took the photographs that later appeared on social media.
The boy’s mother, Chhorn Sok, 45, said she had not been aware that the men had tortured her son until she was contacted by police.
“I think it is very brutal that they tortured him, even though he stole coconuts,” she said. “They should have just warned and educated him.”
Lim Mony, deputy head of the Women’s and Children’s Rights Program at rights group Adhoc, said the men should face serious penalties.
“It is a violation of the child’s rights because they [the men] have no right to torture the boy. They should have informed the police so they could take legal action over what the boy did,” she said.
Kheng Tito, a spokesman for the National Military Police, also re-posted a picture of the incident on his Facebook page and called for the brothers to face the full force of the law.
“The reason I posted it is because these two men are very brutal and inhuman like Pol Pot, so we do not support them and are dissatisfied with this activity,” he said by telephone.