The image of the much-criticized Phnom Penh traffic police department took another hit when an officer Friday knocked a motorcyclist unconscious with a piece of bamboo because he refused to stop his bike.
Officer Sok Visal, 32, knocked Ul Penh, 42, unconscious Friday morning on Street 271 in Toul Kok district, when he ignored police demands to stop his motorcycle, which didn’t have license plates, Phnom Penh traffic police chief Tin Prasoeur said Sunday.
Sok Visal struck Ul Penh, who was traveling with his wife and elderly mother, neither of whom were hurt, with a piece of bamboo that was painted black.
Pictures of an unconscious and convulsing Ul Penh were featured on the front page of a popular Khmer language newspaper.
Tin Prasoeur said his officer should have shown more patience, though he also said the public needed to heed traffic rules such as having license plates and mirrors.
“We accepted that our police officer’s actions did injury to the victim, but we also appeal to the drivers to obey traffic rules,” Tin Prasoeur said.
Sok Visal apologized in person to Ul Penh on Saturday.
He also agreed to pay the family $500 in compensation, Tin Prasoeur said.
Sok Visal has also been barred from working on the streets of Phnom Penh and will remain at a desk job, he said.
“I am very sorry that our police did this ugly action to beat a motorcyclist on the busy streets with a bamboo stick,” he added.
Sok Visal could not be contacted for comment on Sunday.
Kek Galabru, president of local rights group Licadho, said monetary compensation should not be used in place of punishment if a crime has been perpetrated.
“It is wrong to beat somebody like that. It is a crime, and compensation is not legal,” Kek Galabru said.
She also said that because the case involves a police officer, she feared an investigation would not take place.
(Additional reporting by Isabelle Roughol)