The detention by police of an SRP activist who was questioned on Monday over the destruction of potato plants in Kompong Cham province was politically motivated, a rights worker claimed Thursday.
Ngin Savoeun, 35, and his 12-year-old child were detained briefly by armed police officers after they were called to a village chief’s office in Thbong Khmum district’s Rokap Pram commune, SRP second deputy commune chief Hok Ly Hak said.
Ngin Savoeun’s detention, which was based on allegations that he had destroyed potato plants, prompted a peaceful protest by more than 200 villagers.
The villagers surrounded the police vehicle that was taking Ngin Savoeun and his child to the district’s police headquarters, forcing police to release both, Hok Ly Hak said.
The allegations of damaging a potato-crop was used as an excuse to arrest Ngin Savoeun, who has been active during voter registration, Hok Ly Hak added.
Neang Sovath, chief of local rights group Adhoc in Kompong Cham, said that the police action appeared to be politically motivated.
“Police had no clear reason to arrest SRP activist,” Neang Sovath said.
Deputy district police Chief Leang Eng said that witnesses saw Ngin Savoeun destroy the potato plants.
Kompong Cham deputy provincial police chief Seng Sokim said that he would investigate the damage to the potatoes.
He also said that he had not yet apprehended police trainee Long Sopheak, 22, who shot SRP commune councilor Thoeng Thea, 27, in the head and killed him on Oct 16 in the province’s Ponhea Krek district.
Long Sopheak, the son of a CPP district official, killed the SRP councilor after his colleague goaded Thoeng Thea about his SRP affiliation.
Adhoc monitors claim that other police officers were present during the slaying-which occurred at a food stall near a police post-but did nothing to apprehend the killer.