A robber was killed yesterday morning in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district when a family awoke as he and three other men snuck into their Choam Chao commune home and alerted police and villagers.
Police officials gave differing accounts of the killing, leaving it unclear whether the alleged thief was killed by a police officer or by a mob of villagers.
District Police Chief Born Sam Ath said an Interior Ministry police officer, whom he declined to name, shot the robber after the robber attacked him with a knife in an attempt to escape the scene of the crime.
“We must thank the police officer from the Interior Ministry for keeping our villagers safe,” said Mr Sam Ath. “The suspect was not killed by villagers.”
The three other robbers escaped though the police officer also shot one of them in the leg, Mr Sam Ath added.
“Right now, police are still not sure of the deceased robber’s identity,” said Mr Sam Ath.
Deputy district police chief Chuop Sok Heng told a different story yesterday morning. According to Mr Sok Heng, villagers beat the robber to death.
“We have not found any of the villagers who killed the suspect because we don’t know who was involved,” said Mr Sok Heng. “We don’t know the details yet.”
Yann Samedy, deputy Prey Tea village chief, said yesterday that no locals had been able to identify the robber and added that he regretted the man had been killed “even though he was a robber.”
No autopsy had been performed yesterday on the robber and police were continuing to investigate the case, according to commune police chief Mam Hor.
“We don’t know what happened yet,” said Mr Hor.
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor of the local rights NGO Licadho, said that if police officer killed the robber, he should be punished for using unnecessary force.
“If the robber had a gun, than it would make sense for the police to shoot him in order to protect himself, but he didn’t,” said Mr Sam Ath. “The police need to investigate this case and punish the officer.”