The trial of three Prey Veng province policemen charged in 2002 with killing a man in police custody was postponed Thursday because the officers were too busy to attend their trial, provincial court director Chea Nol said.
The suspects—Bun Samphea, deputy police chief for Sithor Kandal district; Suos Bunthat, deputy police chief for Mesang district; and Hay Chivon, a deputy police chief for Mesang’s Prey Khnes commune—had been scheduled to stand trial Thursday for killing Eath Oeun, 35, in July 2001.
“The police asked for the delay until another date,” the court’s director Chea Nol said of the three suspects.
“They asked for a two week [delay],” said Chea Nol, adding that the officers are reportedly searching for thieves and robbers in other provinces.
The suspects did not inform the court which provinces they were travelling to, Chea Nol said, before hanging up the phone.
Hong Kimsuon, a lawyer for the deceased man’s family, questioned whether the suspects were really too busy to attend their own trial.
“I don’t believe that they are busy with missions,” he said.
“They may be looking for an excuse to avoid [trial],” he said, adding that he has sufficient evidence to prove the three officers are guilty of killing Eath Oeun.
Local rights group Licadho said last month that a photograph showing the body of Eath Oeun, a suspected thief, was sent to the Philippines in 2001 for appraisal by leading forensic pathologist Raquel del Rosario-Fortun.
Rosario-Fortun’s official report, which found marks on the body to be consistent with torture, was passed on to the provincial court in 2002, Licadho said.
Provincial Police Chief Tim Phan said Thursday that he did not agree with the report’s findings.
The three officers are still at work because the charges against them were never substantiated, he said, though he declined to say where the men are.
“Our medical personnel said that [Eath Oeun] didn’t die from the beating,” Tim Phan said.
He added that the suspect may have died from a “fainting spell,” and that the pathologist may have misidentified traditional “coining” marks as bruises.