More than 500 villagers in Battambang province’s Banan district have fingerprinted a complaint accusing a local police official of inflicting cruelty on their community and have asked for his removal. Police responded Thursday that they are investigating the authenticity of some of the fingerprints on the Sept 24 complaint.
Hoan Chhoy, second deputy chief of Ta Kream commune, said the complaining locals want the commune’s deputy police chief Heng Thou fired for threatening and abusing poor residents. “They need a new [deputy police chief] because the old one is very immoral,” he said.
Heer Ron, a 41-year-old farmer, claimed Heng Thou arrested and beat her 17-year-old son “for no reason” on Aug 19.
Another villager, Yang Yoeng, 52, was allegedly shot by Heng Thou after making him angry, according to Dim Saroeun, assistant to SRP lawmaker for Battambang Eng Chhay Eang.
Boeng Boeun, 60, said he hired a man to cut down a tree on his property. When Heng Thou passed by, he pointed his gun at the hired hand and seized Boeng Boeun’s chainsaw. Boeng Boeun said he had to pay Heng Thou $15 to get it back.
Kay Bunloeung, a 53-year-old farmer, said that he also joined the complaint. “I do not like Heng Thou’s activities. He always threatens people and does not obey the law,” he said. “I want someone who doesn’t use violence on the people.”
Heng Thou said Thursday that the accusations against him are politically motivated and fomented by the SRP. “I was elected by the people. I do not threaten them,” he said. “No one can fire me except the Ministry of Interior,” he added, before declining to comment further.
Buth Sambo, Banan district police chief, said that police are questioning the validity of more than 100 fingerprints on the complaint. While questioning residents on Oct 3, several said they had been forced to endorse the complaint, he said, though he did not identify who was behind the coercion. Buth Sambo said the complaint arose because villagers “do not like police because the police banned them from committing illegal activities.”