The Prey Veng Provincial Court charged two brothers with torture and acts of cruelty Saturday for holding a 14-year-old boy’s head underwater in an outdoor cistern after he stole four coconuts from their property, officials said Sunday.
Heng Vanny, 28, and Heng Dane, 34, were arrested at their home in Pea Reang district’s Kompong Popil commune Thursday after authorities were made aware of the crime via photos the younger brother posted to his Facebook account, which quickly went viral on the social networking site.
One photo, taken by Mr. Vanny, shows the teenager’s hands tied behind his back, his head fully submerged. Another shows a man holding the boy’s head by the hair after pulling him from the large ceramic container.
“They were charged with torture and acts of cruelty under Article 211 of the Criminal Code,” provincial deputy prosecutor Soeun Moniroth said of the brothers.
Mr. Moniroth said he was not sure when the suspects, who are currently in custody at the provincial prison, would appear in court next. If found guilty, the brothers will face between 10 and 20 years in prison.
Kong Tylin, the lawyer for the 14-year-old boy, said the suspects should have called the police—rather than take justice into their own hands.
“The suspects did not have the right to punish [my client]…. They should have reported [the case] to the police,” Mr. Tylin said, adding that the victim stole the coconuts out of desperation.
“My client is poor, and he was hungry,” he said.
Commune chief Ouch Soy said the teenager has received some $1,000 in donations since the incident took place.