A mob of Banteay Meanchey province motorbike drivers ran down and burned alive a suspected motorcycle thief on Saturday, according to the provincial police chief.
Police chief Sok Sareth said Monday that the thief had stolen a Honda C-100 motorbike after beating up its owner near the military police post outside the border town of Poipet. But the thief faltered in his getaway, hitting a pothole that threw him to the ground, Sok Sareth said.
A pursuing mob of about 30 men beat the thief unconscious, doused him with gasoline and set him alight, the police chief said. “The mob action was ugly and an injustice to the offender’s life. The mob used bamboo sticks to hit and axes to chop on their victim,” he said.
“I am sorry that our police couldn’t come in time to stop the angry mob, because it occurred early in the morning. Our police had not yet come to work,” said Sar Chamrong, the O’Chrou district governor. He said he had ordered police to find the man who had been robbed and arrest him for inciting the mob.
Sok Sareth said his men were trying to find and punish the mob’s ringleader, in order to discourage such actions in the future.
But the police chief acknowledged that the crime’s participants had become difficult to identify once they dispersed.
Saturday’s killing is the second time that a mob has burned a person alive in Banteay Meanchey province, Sok Sareth said. The first time occurred in 2002. The US State Department’s 2003 human rights report said that local NGOs counted eight cases of mob justice that ended in death between February and December of last year.