Prosecutor Investigating Alleged Police Beating in Kandal

The Kandal provincial court prosecutor has opened an investigation into three police officers who allegedly beat two men on Friday—causing one to die—and have since gone on the run, officials said on Tuesday.

Tith Leap, 22, and his brother-in-law Chamroeun Seyha, 26, were beaten by police officers at the Sa’ang district police station on Friday after they were arrested over a traffic dispute with a district officer wearing plain clothes, Mr. Leap said on Monday. Chamroeun Seyha died on Saturday morning in a Takhmao City hospital.

“All three police officers that are suspected to be involved in this case left the area already,” said Kandal provincial court prosecutor Lim Sokuntha on Tuesday.

District police officers Chhay Sina, Pheakdey Vitou and Kheang Sok Theng were named as the three officers involved in the altercation with Mr. Leap and Chamroeun Seyha in Prek Koy commune on Friday, according to an official statement published on the National Police website on Sunday.

A district police officer, who requested anonymity for fear of repercussions, identified Mr. Sina as the district immigration police chief, Mr. Vitou as a deputy district police chief and Mr. Sok Theng as a deputy district technical police chief.

Mr. Sina called for backup and then had Mr. Leap and Chamroeun Seyha arrested on Friday evening after a verbal argument on the road turned violent, allegedly pointing his pistol at the men and—together with the other officers—kicking, punching and pushing them to the ground before they were brought to district police headquarters.

Residents who were at the scene of the altercation said the men emerged from police custody in far worse condition than before they were detained. Police had initially reported that a mob of local residents were responsible for the beatings and that officers intervened in an attempt to protect the men.

After receiving a complaint from relatives of the men on Saturday, Mr. Sokuntha said he led provincial police officers to investigate the scene of the incident.

“The autopsy result showed that Chamroeun Seyha’s body was impacted with a hard tool, but we do not know who beat the men yet,” he said.

“We are investigating to find justice for the victims,” he added. “We want to find the people who beat the two men, whether or not they are police officers.”

Mr. Sokuntha said he sent a letter to National Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun on Monday requesting that he also launch an internal investigation.

Spokesmen for the national police and Interior Ministry could not be reached on Tuesday.

Provincial police chief Eav Chamroeun said his officers were investigating, but declined to comment because the work was ongoing.

Mr. Leap said he hoped the offending officers were tracked down and severely punished.

“I request that the court sentence those police officers to life, because the beating they dealt seriously injured me and caused my brother-in-law to die,” he said.

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