Stung Treng Villagers Level Gun Complaint at Governor

Four Stung Treng province villagers have filed a complaint with rights group Adhoc alleging that the governor of Thala Barivat district threatened them with a handgun, the villagers and Adhoc said yesterday.

Hou Sam Ol, provincial investigator for Adhoc, said four villagers—Heng Saroun, 32, Bun Narith, 46, Tuy Yoeun, 34, and Rath Bunhong, 35—filed a complaint at the Adhoc office on Saturday against Thala Barivat district governor Chea Thavarith, accusing him of abusing his power by threatening to shoot them on Thursday night in Sre Russei commune.

“I am investigating to find justice for them. I don’t want a person who has power to use that power against villagers,” Mr Sam Ol added.

According to Mr Bunhong, the four villagers were walking home from a karaoke session at a friend’s house when Mr Tha­varith drove up beside them and asked whose motorcycle hit his car. When the villagers said they did not know, Mr Thavarith then exited his car, pulled a gun and threatened to shoot them, Mr Bunhong said.

“He was rude to us and took out his gun,” he said. “I was scared when I saw the governor blindly waving it around.”

“When the police came…[the district governor] and the police officers started shaking hands, and a compromise was reached where we both go home,” he added. “There was no justice for me.”

Mr Bunhong said the villagers tried to file a complaint with Stung Treng Provincial Court yesterday, but that court officials told them the police should deal with the issue.

Mr Thavarith could not be reached for comment yesterday.

However, provincial minor crime bureau police chief Hor Vuthy said Mr Thavarith filed a complaint with police yesterday alleging the villagers falsely accused him of drawing a gun.

“If the villagers’ claim is true, I will send the complaint to the courts, but an initial investigation revealed that the villagers were drunk,” he said.

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