A mentally ill man was tortured by police in Kompong Cham province for several days, leaving him hospitalized, according to an official with the human rights NGO Adhoc.
Than Tho, 35, was severely beaten and his wrists and ankles cut by tight handcuffs while in Cheung Prey district police custody after his July 1 arrest, Adhoc investigator Chan Saveth said Thursday.
“Police tortured Than Tho at the Cheung Prey police station and they detained him for four days without sending him to court” for arraignment, Chan Saveth said, adding that Than Tho is now being treated at a provincial hospital.
Than Tho was arrested for reportedly attacking fellow Kouk Roveang village resident Tuy To, 48, with a wooden stick, the Adhoc investigator said. Tuy To fled from his attacker and complained to police, who arrested Than Tho the same day.
Chan Saveth alleged that police demanded approximately $500 from Than Tho’s wife for his release. Though she could not pay the sum, they let him go four days later, Chan Saveth said, adding Adhoc will file a complaint to the provincial court about the case.
Cheung Prey district police Chief Neang Heng denied police beat the detainee or demanded money for his release.
Police intended to detain Than Tho for only 48 hours, the legally sanctioned period before a suspect must be brought to court, Neang Heng said. But when they tried to release him, Than Tho became violent, he said.
Than Tho was not brought to court because “even if I sent him to court, the court will release him because he is mentally ill,” Neang Heng said.
Kompong Cham Deputy police Chief Seng Sokhim said he was unaware of the case, but that police would be punished if found guilty.
Earlier this week, National Police Deputy Director-General Sau Phan denounced police torture after outcry from human rights groups over his earlier statement that torture is sometimes necessary.