Two RCAF soldiers from Battambang province said Wednesday that they plan to seek legal action against local Ministry of Defense officials for allegedly mistreating them while they were detained over a land dispute.
Chhea Ny, who said he was released from the headquarters of Military Brigade 53 in Kamrieng district on Jan 4, claimed he was detained for more than a month, and was kept for two days in a hole in the ground with his colleague Oeurn Mao following their November arrests.
“I will complain to the [provincial] court for detaining me for more than a month. It is illegal and violates my rights,” he said.
He claimed the hole was 3 meters wide, 4 meters in length and 1.5 meters deep, and had a wooden roof.
“I and Oeurn Mao were detained in a hole and it was dark. It was full of red ants,” he said.
Mao Oeurn said he was kept handcuffed for two days in the hole, and was beaten by an RCAF soldier and shot in the thigh during his Nov 25 arrest.
“I am very disappointed with such torture. I will sue them,” he said.
Ek Sam On, deputy commander of Military Region Five, which includes Battambang, denied the two men’s allegations of mistreatment, adding that they needed to be detained as they had encouraged people to confiscate land belonging to others.
He added that officials from Brigade 53 will now file a lawsuit against the pair accusing them of encroachment.
“They are performing contrary to military discipline,” he said.
Officials with the brigade could not be contacted.
Yin Mengly, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said perpetrators of the alleged mistreatment should be prosecuted.
He has previously said the two were arrested after being accused of allowing people to clear land claimed by Brigade 53.
“It is not military discipline but torture,” he said of their alleged treatment. “Those who implement such torture should be judged in court.”