The Takeo Provincial Court on Wednesday released a Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) soldier after he allegedly took part in the mob beating of a monk at a pagoda on Monday night, police said Thursday, adding the attack was revenge for a beating the victim had administered before joining the monkhood.
Sok Vichea, deputy Tram Kak district police chief, said a group of about 10 men attacked Non Phally, 25, at Wat Banteay Chum in O’Saray commune at his living quarters inside the pagoda after he finished evening prayers for the Pchum Ben festival.
“Based on what the monk told me at the hospital, he said that at about 7 p.m. the suspects knocked on his door and called him outside,” Mr. Vichea said.
“When the monk opened the door the suspects used wooden sticks to beat him on his head and his body,” he added. “The suspects beat him seriously; he had two teeth broken and a broken jaw, a bloody head and bruising to his whole body.”
After the attack, local villagers rushed the victim to the district referral hospital, where police questioned the monk, who identified two of the attackers as Pres Samrith, 26, a soldier in RCAF Battalion 114, and his unemployed friend, Lim Seiha, 27.
Mr. Vichea said he sent his officers to arrest the pair, who were still at the pagoda, pretending to be witnesses to the crime. But upon questioning by police, Mr. Samrith admitted to being accomplice to the crime, while Mr. Seiha confessed to attacking the monk.
“Mr. Pres Samrith said he just knocked on the door to call the monk out but he did not beat him, while Mr. Seiha said he joined in with beating the monk,” he said.
Although both men were sent to the provincial court on Wednesday, the soldier was released, while his friend was charged with intentional violence with aggravating circumstances, said Yong Nheav, chief of the provincial police’s
minor crimes bureau.
“I do not know why Mr. Samrith was released without charge,” Mr. Nheav said.
Upon the soldier’s release, incensed local villagers called a radio station to chastise police for allowing his release, said acting district police chief Uon Sokhum.
“The local people called to Mohachun Radio accusing district and provincial police of releasing the suspect…but it’s not us, we just arrested them and then sent the report and suspects to the court,” Mr. Sokhum said.
“The suspects beat the monk because they had a dispute with the monk five months ago. They wanted revenge on the victim because he beat one of them before he joined the monkhood,” he said, adding police are searching for more suspects.
Provincial court officials could not be reached