A policeman detained since last month over a land dispute with Princess Norodom Marie Ranariddh has been hospitalized since Monday, police and a doctor said Wednesday.
The Interior Ministry said earlier this month that National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy had ordered the detention of Pring Pov, a policeman for Kep municipality’s Damnak Chang’aur district, but denied allegations of torture from NGOs who called the officer’s detention illegal.
No formal changes have been brought against Pring Pov, who police say abused his authority to secure access to a 2,500-square-meter plot of land that the princess claims to own.
In a joint statement Tuesday, local rights groups Adhoc and Licadho said they were “deeply concerned” for Pring Pov’s health.
Speaking in the presence of a police officer, a doctor at Preah Monivong police hospital said Wednesday that Pring Pov had suffered no injuries consistent with beating during his five-week detention and was being treated for a nasal polyp, a benign growth that can sometimes obstruct breathing.
Lying in a hospital bed, Pring Pov appeared listless but was easily startled.
“They did not beat me,” Pring Pov said.
Before a policeman asked reporters to leave his room at the hospital, Pring Pov also said his detention had been stressful and that as a result of being handcuffed he now suffered numbness and partial loss of movement in his hands and legs.
Dr Na Theanen said Wednesday that Pring Pov had on his arrival appeared depressed and hit himself in the head with crushed ice, which was meant to dull pain. Pring Pov did not appear to have been beaten, he said.
“He was so depressed, and he used the ice to hit his head, and we don’t want him to do that,” he said. “As a doctor, I didn’t see any sign of the beating. In this modern country, they don’t beat people anymore,” he added.
Na Theanen said Pring Pov’s polyp was being treated with medication and that the problems he claimed to suffer in his hands and legs were likely because of his emotional state.
“This is related to psychology. It is not related to his body,” Na Theanen said.
Hok Lundy said Wednesday he was unaware of Pring Pov.
“I am not aware of this. Ask the police chief down there,” he said by telephone.
Kep municipal police chief Ing Sam Ol could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Police officials have described the prolonged detention of Pring Pov as a disciplinary measure.
An officer from the Interior Ministry’s Order Police Department, who was guarding Pring Pov on Wednesday at the Monivong Hospital but declined to give his name, said the case was clear enough.
“This is not a criminal regime like the killing fields. He lives on Marie Ranariddh’s land,” he said. “No one has tortured him. I have been with him the whole time.”
The princess could not be reached for comment Wednesday.