Deputy Court Director Investigated for Death Threat to Clerk

The deputy director of the Kompong Speu Provincial Court has apologized to a disabled court clerk for throwing away his crutch as a “joke,” but failed to mention a separate allegation that he had ordered the man to drink wine by pointing a gun at his head.

Chheav Kimhak, the clerk, filed his complaint against deputy court director Men Vannak on Thursday, according to Justice Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap, who is investigating the case.

In his written complaint, Mr. Kimhak says he was having dinner with friends one evening in November when Mr. Vannak walked into the restaurant.

“Mr. Vannak was drunk and ordered me to drink many glasses of wine. But because my health was not good and because I am disabled, it is difficult for me to [drive] if I drink a lot of wine,” he says.

“I asked him for permission to stop drinking,” he continues, “but Mr. Vannak did not agree and forced me to drink more wine, but I refused. Then he pulled a handgun out of a bag, cocked it, pointed the gun at my head and my stomach, and threatened to kill me if I refused to drink.”

His boss then put a bullet in his glass and told him to drink it, which he refused, he says.

He initially decided not to file a complaint in deference to his superior, but changed his mind after another encounter on March 6 while he was out at a work party when Mr. Vannak threw his crutch away from where he was sitting and teased him about his disabled leg.

Mr. Santepheap said on Sunday that Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana had asked for the case to be investigated “urgently.”

“We went to the provincial court on Friday and spoke with some people there, but I cannot tell you the results right now because our investigation is not yet finished,” Mr. Santepheap said.

In a written statement dated Friday, Mr. Vannak apologized for throwing the cane away, which he called a joke, but did not refer to the alleged incident with the gun.

Neither Mr. Kimhak nor Mr. Vannak could be reached for comment.

Court director Keo Sothea said on Sunday that he had tried mediating a resolution to the dispute, but agreed to endorse the complaint after Mr. Kimhak refused to accept Mr. Vannak’s apology.

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