Women’s affairs officials in Kampot province have backed human rights groups’ accusations that police caused a woman’s miscarriage, while authorities there maintain that the woman lost her child in an escape attempt.
Hout Ry, head of the women’s development office at the Kampot Provincial Department of Women’s Affairs, said Tuesday she had sent a commune-level agent to question villagers about the incident.
“They confirmed what [rights group] Adhoc said. They saw police handcuff the lady and then put the benches across her abdomen,” she said.
Kompong Chamrong commune police and Kampot district police picked up Tep Neang, 37, on Aug 18 after her neighbor complained she was injured in a fight with Tep Neang.
Police tried to take her to the district station in a horse cart, but Tep Neang, three months pregnant, leaped out.
Police grabbed her again, cuffed her wrists and ankles and restrained her in the bed of the cart with two wooden benches placed snugly across her abdomen, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, to which Adhoc belongs, has charged.
Then they bounced down 6 km of bad road to the station, where Tep Neang bled profusely and told disbelieving police she had lost her baby, Adhoc’s provincial director Try Chhoun said Sunday.
“At first we didn’t believe it. That is why we sent our official to investigate,” Hout Ry said Tuesday. “We found out it was true. Now we are working with Adhoc, trying to talk to the prosecutor in order to punish the police officials, and ask for some compensation for the victim, for her medical treatment.”
But prosecutor Ouk Kimsith said Tuesday he was not convinced police were to blame. “The police told me they didn’t torture the victim. The victim jumped herself from the horse cart,” he said, before adding, “I haven’t reviewed the case yet.”
Provincial Judicial Police Chief In Chiva said he would present the results of his investigation into the torture allegation to National Police Director General Hok Lundy today. He said Hok Lundy ordered him to look into the matter on Sunday.
He had since spoken to witnesses, who all said police did not mistreat Tep Neang, he said.
Try Chhoun said Sunday that witnesses reported they were too afraid of police to testify against them.