A mob beat two suspected motorcycle thieves bloody on Sunday in Phnom Penh, killing one and seriously injuring the other.
Chuop Sok Heng, deputy police chief for Dangkao district, said Monday that nearly 200 people joined the fray.
The chase began outside a pagoda in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district, where Pen Chem, 18, and Yang Phnon, 14, tried to steal two motorbikes, Chuop Sok Heng said. He said the two youths succeeded in forcing the lock on only one of the motorbikes, whose owners were donating food to monks in the pagoda for Pchum Ben. But they tripped the anti-theft alarm of the second motorbike, alerting bystanders to their intentions, and fled on the other vehicle.
Dozens pursued them, Chuop Sok Heng said. The suspected thieves were surrounded about 2 km farther on, in Dangkao district’s Samroang Krom commune.
Chuop Sok Heng said the mob then fell upon them, kicking and beating them with sticks.
“The villagers beat the thieves because they loathed them very much,” he added.
Yang Phon died en route to the hospital. Pen Chem is recovering at the Sihanouk Center of Hope hospital, he said.
Nearly every human rights report written on Cambodia—including the government’s periodic review, which critics say ignores most problems—refers to the high number of extrajudicial killings here.
The government’s Cambodian Human Rights Committee, which is headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s adviser Om Yentieng, stated in its report for 2004’s first quarter that there were 14 incidents of mob justice. Om Yentieng said police intervened in 11 of those cases, sparing lives.
The CHRC has yet to release a report for the second or third quarters of 2004.
Ny Chakriya, head monitor for the local human rights group Adhoc, said Monday that mob killings remain a grave concern.
Cases of violent vigilante justice will continue as long as Cambodia allows impunity before the law, he said.