Kampot province police have denied allegations by a human rights group and a commune official that they killed an alleged thief in cold blood, claiming they were fired on first.
Nuth Bopennarath, provincial investigator for local rights group Licadho, said Tuesday that the victim, Tub Mean, 33, who was a known cattle thief, was arrested by Chumkiri district police chief Sao Phea and 10 police officers at around 9 am Monday.
Nuth Bopennarath said villagers reported that a district police officer, identified as Kung Dong, shot the unarmed suspect, who died later in a Kampot province hospital from two gunshot wounds to his sto- mach and buttocks.
“It is an extra-judicial killing,” Nuth Bopennarath said. “It is a serious human rights abuse,” he added.
Sok Heang, deputy chief of Sre Cheng commune, said Wednesday that over 30 villagers claimed that Tub Mean did not have a weapon when police arrested him.
“Tub Mean did not shoot at the police,” he said.
In Chiva, provincial deputy police chief, said Tuesday that Tub Mean fired a gun at police while they were attempting to arrest him for allegedly stealing cows in the commune.
“We had an arrest warrant. We shot him because he was a thief and he fired at police first,” he said.
Thoung Tha, Sre Cheng commune police chief and one of the arresting officers, also said that Tub Mean shot at police first. Though Tha, however, said he could not remember the type of gun that the deceased was alleged to have fired.
“We shot at him to protect ourselves,” he said, before declining to comment further.
Contacted Wednesday, In Chiva declined to comment on whether police had found the gun Tub Mean allegedly fired at the officers.
SRP Deputy Secretary-General Mu Sochua, who visited the scene of the shooting, called for an independent investigation of the killing Wednesday.