Two RCAF soldiers accused of torturing a man to death were detained at Kratie Provincial Court on Thursday, marking the first time commanding officers brought their soldiers to the province’s court to face charges, court officials said.
Son Heng, a company commander in Battalion 204, and his brother-in-law and fellow soldier Kong Penh, alias Kong Kouy, are being held in connection with the August death of Ny Sok Rorn, 35, who was also a soldier in their battalion.
Ny Sok Rorn was missing for almost two weeks before he was returned home severely beaten, incoherent and terrified for the final days of his life.
“I decided to detain Son Heng and Kong Penh in prison when they appeared in court Thursday morning,” said Kratie Investigating Judge Kong Sokhom. “We have to hold them here to keep our investigation unobstructed.”
“We have seen good cooperation from provincial military officers bringing these men to court,” he said. “This is the first time commanders have brought soldiers to court for investigation.”
Kong Sokhom added that the provincial military commanders had asked him not to immediately arrest the men when he issued the arrest warrant, preferring to take action themselves to avoid unnecessary conflict. The two suspects were taken to a military base in Kratie town for a week before appearing in court.
“Their military superiors agreed to bring them to court for us,” Kong Sokhom said. “Previously, we have rarely had armed forces suspects appear in court when arrest warrants were issued,” he said. “But now military officers here understand the law and the court’s work.”
Kratie Prosecutor Penh Vibol said Thursday that the detention was necessary to prevent interference with the legal process through intimidation. “In recent months we have had many reports changed,” Penh Vibol said. “Witnesses dare not speak to the police or court, and the victim’s wife changed her report, too,” he said.