In a show of solidarity, motorcycle taxi drivers staged a protest yesterday outside a Poipet City police station, fearing the arrest of a fellow driver who they say was falsely accused of assaulting a woman and was the subject of extortionate claims for compensation, police said.
The moto driver, Nan Saran, was briefly detained and questioned on Tuesday following an encounter at a local market with Choeung Yoeurn, whom he called “mute” after she ignored his repeated taxi service offers, Poipet commune police chief Kum Kuon said.
Ms Yoeurn could not be reached yesterday, but according to Mr Kuon, the woman took offense at the name-calling and telephoned her husband, and an argument ensued. She then complained to police, accusing the moto taxi driver of assault.
City police chief Oum Sophal said yesterday that Mr Saran had not assaulted Ms Yoeurn as she claimed.
“Through our investigation, the taxi driver didn’t beat her up to cause serious injury as she alleged, which is why around two dozen taxi drivers assembled in front of the police to give statements,” he said.
“That’s why we told the protesters to break up after promising to lobby the complainant to end the matter peacefully,” he said.
Mr Saran said yesterday he had been called to the police station to discuss the complaint against him and that police were demanding he pay $250 to them to resolve the matter.
“I will never, ever pay the compensation even though police threatened me,” he said.
Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for the human rights group Adhoc, said yesterday that commune police had confiscated Mr Saran’s motorcycle and arrested him on Tuesday, releasing him only toward midnight.
“Police always take advantage whenever there are complaints in general made to them,” he said. “Although there is no proof to prove somebody is guilty, police always get money for the release or for the end of the problem.”
Mr Kuon, the commune police chief, denied this was the case.
“Our police are trying to resolve this issue, and we never forced that driver to pay compensation,” he claimed.