A police officer and his friend were detained by military police in Phnom Penh on Tuesday night for allegedly pointing a gun at a prostitute who refused to accept the amount of money they were offering to have sex, officials said.
The men had been drinking at a shop in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district when they went to purchase sex from women working in front of the Tonle Sap restaurant along the riverside in Wat Phnom commune, according to Yin Sophal, deputy district penal police chief.
Thorng Piseth, district military police commander, said the men were negotiating with a woman when the police officer pulled a gun on her, prompting her to start screaming. Military police officers in the area rushed to the scene and arrested the men, he said.
“We transferred them to police, please ask the police instead,” Mr. Piseth said when asked if the pair would be punished, adding that the woman had filed a complaint following the incident.
Mr. Sophal, the deputy penal police chief, said the police officer involved in the altercation worked in Wat Phnom commune, naming him only as Vannak, 32, declining to give the name of the other man.
“I asked them ‘Why did military police arrest you?’ They said ‘We just argued with sex workers.’ And then I scolded them ‘If you don’t mess up, no one will arrest you, please stop doing silly things like that,’” he said.
Mr. Sophal said district police chief Huot Chanyaran had decided against sending the men to court because it was only a “minor problem,” although he said the two were still being detained as of last night and Mr. Vannak risked being suspended for a month.
“We will not send them to the court, but we will educate them and make a contract with them not to do that again,” he said, denying the woman’s claim that Mr. Vannak was armed. “He had no weapons.”
In January, the group Women’s Network for Unity released a report that found 80 percent of street-based sex workers it surveyed had been physically “violated” by on-duty police officers.