The director of Mondolkiri Provincial Prison denied Wednesday that hunger had contributed to Monday’s death of a detainee, despite claims from hospital and human rights workers that the man died of malnutrition.
Nhoeth Thy, 47, died 30 minutes after being admitted to hospital from complications related to malnutrition, which may have been compounded by malaria and a related blood disorder, Nou Somethea, a doctor at Sen Monorom Referral Hospital, said Tuesday.
Nhoeth Thy had been held in prison without trial since early 2006 for allegedly burning grasslands that destroyed trees on a land concession operated by a Chinese company.
Prison Director Ang Kimleng said that Nhoeth Thy had fallen sick suddenly in prison and that his death was as yet unexplained.
“I am strongly clarifying that the death is not involved with hunger, torture or deteriorating health from the prison,” Ang Kimleng said.
“I provide enough food and meals for prisoners,” he said, adding that the death was “terrible and a surprise.”
Ang Kimleng, however, confirmed that two other prison inmates are currently receiving medical care outside the prison but he did not elaborate on the nature of their illness.
Reiterating his report on the men’s health Tuesday, Nou Somethea said Wednesday that the two male prisoners were suffering from malnutrition but that their conditions were not life-threatening.
Em Veasna, coordinator in Mondolkiri for Human Rights Vigilance of Cambodia, also stood by his claim Tuesday that Nhoeth Thy died from hunger.
“I’ve received a lot of complaints from inmates’ families who say prisoners’ meals are poor because there isn’t enough meat or fish for protein, which makes a lot of in-mates pale,” he said.
Heng Hak, director-general of the newly-created Prison Secretariat, said he had formed a team to investigate Nhoeth Thy’s death.