Police in Battambang province paid the family of a man who died in their custody 5 million riel Monday as court officials said they are continuing to investigate the death.
Kear Commune Chief Puth Keo said he helped broker the payment of $1,250 between the commune- and district-level law enforcement officials and the family of Kong La, who died April 1 while in Kear commune police custody.
The dead man’s younger brother, Kong Lorn, and a Licadho investigator said the body showed signs of trauma, which they allege were the result of police brutality. “The family is very poor so they decided to take the money,” Puth Keo said.
On Wednesday, Mong Russei district police chief Kit Heang said the money was a charitable gesture from authorities and not an admission of guilt or responsibility by the police force.
“We did give them some money to help them pay for the funeral,” he said.
Kit Heang said he had filed a complaint with the provincial court but declined to give any details regarding the document or on whose behalf he filed it.
Chief Provincial Prosecutor Sar Yosthavrak confirmed receiving and filing the complaint from district police but would not elaborate further.
Of the two policemen reportedly present during Kong La’s death, commune police chief Sang Rann only answered “I don’t know” to a reporter’s questions, and commune serious crimes police chief Rim Long could not be reached this week.
Provincial police chief Sar Thet said a postmortem examination he ordered revealed that Kong La died from falling off the back of a police motorcycle. He claimed that Kong La was drunk and sustained his injuries from tumbling several times.
Nonetheless, he said the case would be examined.
“If it is found that he died due to being tortured, the policemen will be punished,” he said.
Kong Lorn confirmed that his brother’s family received the approximately $1,250 in compensation but added that his family still had misgivings regarding Kong La’s death.
“I still have doubts about my brother’s death,” he said.