An RCAF soldier died in Kratie province’s Snuol district Aug 18 from wounds that appeared to have resulted from torture, a human rights official and a provincial court prosecutor said Thursday.
Ny Sok Rorn, 35, a father of six, also known as Heap Nuth, belonged to Border Battalion 204 but spent most of his time at his family’s home in Thei commune, where he supplemented his income by working odd jobs, said Chan Soveth, an investigator for the human rights group Adhoc.
Citing interviews with neighbors and relatives, Chan Soveth said Son Heng, a Battalion 204 officer, arrived at Ny Sok Rorn’s home on July 28 with two bodyguards and drove him back to their base.
On the afternoon of Aug 10, neighbors saw Ny Sok Rorn return on a motorbike with two soldiers. The soldiers dropped him off beside a rice field about 200 meters from his home, where he stood until neighbors went to meet him, Chan Soveth said.
They found a man shell-shocked. They took him to a hut where he repeated three phrases, Chan Soveth said.
Over and over, Ny Sok Rorn said: “Handcuffed,” “saw men in paramilitary uniforms” and “scared.”
“He was frightened all of the time, and he did not say anything but these words,” Chan Soveth said.
Ny Sok Rorn died eight days later in the commune hospital.
Prosecutor Penh Vibol and Chan Soveth said a doctor called to Ny Sok Rorn’s house by the family discovered dark bruises around his abdomen and up his back.
His wrists were raw and swollen, apparently from having been bound or shackled too tightly, and his stomach and ribs bore fresh burn scars, apparently from having been seared with hot metal, they said.
When police examined the body after he died, they found dark bruises around the groin and swelling at the back of the skull. The ankles were also marked and swollen like the wrists, they said.
A doctor from the provincial hospital, who performed an autopsy, said the bruises resulted from severe beatings.
Penh Vibol said police initially told him that Ny Sok Rorn had been in a traffic accident, repeating the explanation given them by Battalion 204 soldiers.
“I don’t believe this explanation, and I asked them to investigate and to show me the motorbike and the location of the accident,” the prosecutor said.
“The evidence I have indicates it was torture,” he added.
Chan Soveth asked: “Why didn’t they drop him off at his house and tell his wife about his condition? We tried to meet his commanders, but we were denied access.”
Contacted by telephone Thursday, Yim Yean, commander of Battalion 204, said, “I was told by my men that he was drunk and he fell off a bridge, but some people [say] that he was tortured. I would like police to investigate this case openly.”
Choub Chinda, Kratie’s deputy provincial police chief, said Thursday that police officials had just left for Snuol district that morning to investigate. Nothing new had been reported, he said.