The wife of former deputy municipal minor-crime police chief Ly Rasy said Sunday that she is seeking asylum for fear of retribution, after she publicly blamed her husband’s imprisonment on a dispute between senior police officials.
Nguy Soroathana said from hiding that a man had telephoned her on Saturday threatening to kill her, and telling her not to file any complaints about the case.
“I want to get out of the country to another country that would provide me asylum,” Nguy Soroathana said by telephone, adding that she has appealed to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and local rights group Licadho for help.
She said she feared retribution after telling journalists that Ly Rasy was being used as a pawn in a dispute between National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy and former municipal police commissioner Heng Pov.
Ly Rasy, who was a close associate of Heng Pov, was jailed in January. He is accused of involvement in the killing of judge Sok Sethamony in 2003 and of the death of a woman in custody last year. He is also accused of attempting to kill National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha and Municipal Court prosecutor Ouk Savouth.
UNHCR spokeswoman Deborah Backus said she could not comment on individual cases, but added that the organization only deals with people who have already fled the country where they faced hardship.
Licadho founder Kek Galabru declined comment on whether the organization had received a complaint.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Nguy Soroathana is not in danger, and “should not worry.”
In letters obtained Sunday purportedly written by Ly Rasy and fellow police officials accused of the same crimes, they claimed to their relatives that they have been tortured by police and military police into giving confessions implicating Heng Pov.
“[On] Feb 20, 2006, military police took me to be tortured,” Hang Vuthy, former municipal criminal-section deputy police chief, alleged in an undated letter. “The torture included covering my face and electrocuting me, covering my head with plastic and holding me underwater…and beating me with brass knuckles.”
Hang Vuthy, who is also accused of killing Sok Sethamony, said he had considered suicide in detention and warned his wife: “If someone calls you to meet somewhere, do not go.”
Ly Rasy also claimed he had been tortured in a letter dated Feb 20. “It is clear that they have a plan to put the blame on Heng Pov,” he claimed.
“That is why they arrested Heng Pov’s followers, like me.”
Hok Lundy and Heng Pov, who have both previously denied having a dispute, could not be reached for comment.
But Khieu Sopheak and Sao Sokha both denied the men had been tortured. “We do not permit this kind of treatment,” Khieu Sopheak said.