Two men were beaten – one nearly to death – by a mob early yesterday morning in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district when a man called for help after they allegedly attempted to steal his motorcycle.
The pair were taken to Preah Kosamak hospital suffering injuries to their heads and eyes, Chap Chantha, Por Sen Chey deputy police chief, said.
“The suspects may have died if police did not arrive on time because they were outnumbered; they will be charged and sent to court if police find out they are involved in the robbery,” Chantha said.
According to Chantha, 26-year-old Samrith Serey claimed he parked his bike in front of his front gate and was calling a family member on the phone to be let in when three men rode past him and then doubled back hitting him with a stick. Serey shouted for help, sending one suspect fleeing, but nearby residents then surrounded the remaining two and began beating them.
The suspects were identified as Suon Seyla, 23, a construction worker who is seriously injured and now remains in hospital; Suon Lin, 23, a motodop who was also injured but was released from the hospital; and Vy, 24, who escaped and has not yet been found by police.
Seyla told police that residents only assumed they were robbers. He claimed they were riding past when Serey began cursing at them so they hit him with a stick. Serey seized the suspects’ stick and beat them with it. Seyla and Lin got on their knees and apologised to Serey but to no avail. Bystanders also began using sticks and stones to beat the suspects.
“We have small builds; the victim has a big build and we cannot defeat him, but we were beaten with the stick that we held,” Seyla said. “If I were a robber, I wouldn’t have gotten off my motorbike to apologise to him.”
Despite increased police presence, mob violence continues to plague the Kingdom due – say many rights monitors – to a lack of faith in the judicial system. Perpetrators are rarely, if ever, prosecuted.
Ny Chakrya, head of Adhoc’s human rights program, said in “a case of robbery and the victim shouts for help, people can arrest them and hand them over to police, but if the thieves have no possibility to fight back, and [the vigilantes] still hit them . . . they are guilty.”