Deported Researcher Claims Officials Beat Her

A Spanish researcher and activist who was deported from Cambodia last month for her involvement in a series of protests claimed this week that immigration officials filmed her being beaten while in custody before her departure.

The senior immigration official who oversaw her deportation refuted the accusation and branded her a drug user and sorceress.

Marga Bujosa Segado is escorted from her apartment in Phnom Penh's Boeng Kak neighborhood before being deported last month. (Hannah Hawkins/The Cambodia Daily)
Marga Bujosa Segado is escorted from her apartment in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood before being deported last month. (Hannah Hawkins/The Cambodia Daily)

Marga Bujosa Segado, 38, was arrested in Phnom Penh on August 16 while demonstrating for the release of Boeng Kak community activists Tep Vanny and Bov Sophea, who were detained during a “Black Monday” protest calling for a full investigation into the murder of political analyst Kem Ley.

Released that evening, Ms. Bujosa Segado—a doctoral candidate at the University of Granada who lived in the Boeng Kak neighborhood—was told  to go and collect her passport at the immigration department’s headquarters the next morning. Upon arriving, she was arrested, held in a detention cell and later put on a plane to Spain.

In a letter to The Cambodia Daily on Tuesday, the academic said that while in custody before her deportation, she was kicked in the stomach and torso by subordinates of Uk Heisela, chief of investigations at the immigration department.

“The immigration officer who was aggressive toward me the day before kicked me in the stomach on three occasions, while a second one kicked me in the torso once. Another five immigration officers were inside the cell, one of them shooting a video of the battering,” she said.

Ms. Bujosa Segado also said that when immigration officers finally returned her mobile phone, moments before she stepped on the plane, all of its photographs had been deleted.

Major General Heisela on Wednesday said the Spaniard’s allegations of abuse were a lie, which he chalked up to narcotics abuse.

“If we had really kicked her, she would be dead—please, look at her body. She tried to use martial arts on us,” he said.

“She is…a drug user. When we were writing a report [about her detention], she was taking pictures and did not agree to sign the paper,” he added. “She acted coarse and gave the middle finger to us.”

As for the deleted photos, Maj. Gen. Heisela said they were deleted for the safety of his officers.

“We suggested that she delete the photos herself, but she refused. We were worried she might be a sorcerer and then take photos to do black magic on our stomachs,” he said.

“Everyone knows the Spanish practice magic,” he said. “They can fly on brooms.”

Reached for a response, Ms. Segado denied using drugs, martial arts or black magic and said the general’s defense was absurd.

“I think the one on drugs is him. I mean, it is just ridiculous,” she said.

odom@cambodiadaily.com, wright@cambodiadaily.com

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