Five Years On, Three Police Face Killing Charges

Three Prey Veng province policemen charged in 2002 with killing a man in police custody are scheduled to stand trial next month, a lawyer and rights worker said Jan 17.

The officers, who were deputy district police chiefs at the time of the incident in July 2001, are due to stand trial on Feb 8.

Villager Eath Oeun, 35, died on July 29, 2001—three days after he was arrested for stealing in Mesang district’s Prey Khnes commune, said Hong Kimsoun, a lawyer for relatives of the deceased man.

Hong Kimsoun said that Eath Oeun’s body was badly bruised when handed over by police, indicating that he had been beaten in custody.

Seng Sopheak, Prey Veng provincial deputy police chief, said that his officers were innocent.

He said that Eath Oeun’s wife, who administered the traditional Khmer coining to her husband, had inflicted the bruises on the victim.

Because the dead man was cremated shortly after death without being examined by a doctor, Seng Sopheak said, photographs of the man’s allegedly battered body do not constitute evidence.

“My three police officers who were charged with intentional killing are innocent,” Seng Sopheak said.

Suspects Bun Samphea, deputy police chief for Sithor Kandal district; Suos Bunthat, deputy police chief for Mesang district; and Hay Chivon, deputy commune police chief for Prey Khnes commune in Mesang district are all still at work, he added.

Jason Barber, a consultant at local rights group Licadho’s Project Against Torture, said a photograph of Eath Oeun’s body was sent to the Philippines in 2001 for investigation by leading forensic pathologist Raquel del Rosario-Fortun.

Rosario-Fortun’s official report, which found marks on the body to be consistent with torture, was passed to Prey Veng provincial court in 2002, Barber said.

     (Ad­ditional reporting by Emily Lodish)


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