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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Assault victim bribed, lawyer says

Assault victim bribed, lawyer says

Phat Dara, a mechanic who says he was beaten on the head, face and hands by an off-duty senior police officer, shows his injuries earlier this month.


A COURT official has tried to bribe a mechanic to drop his assault complaint against a senior police officer, the victim’s employer said on Monday.

The complaint stems from an incident on December 13, when 25-year-old Phat Dara saw two cars racing past the garage where he works in the capital.

When the mechanic shouted at children playing in the street to get out of the way of the speeding vehicles, the victim and witnesses say one of the drivers – Neang Sok Na, deputy police chief of the Phnom Penh Minor Crimes bureau – stopped his car and seized the mechanic and beat him on the head and hands with his gun.

Phat Dara remains in hospital, where he is being treated for his injuries.

Song Ly, police chief of the Minor Crimes Bureau has denied the assault allegation.

He said Phat Dara had been drinking, and that it was he who had assaulted Neang Sok La. “It is the people’s right to complain; however, we also have a document to countersue because the people don’t know the truth,” he said at the time.

Om Heng, Phat Dara’s employer and the owner of Heng Heng garage on Street 39 in Phnom Penh, said on Monday that Phat Dara’s parents had been offered US$500 in compensation by a prosecutor on the condition that they drop the case – an offer they rejected outright.

New complaint
“The small amount could not even compensate the treatment of his injury,” Om Heng said. “He has been in hospital for weeks. We would like to keep pursuing legal action and file a new complaint with Prime Minister Hun Sen. We are so hurt to be violated by police officials.”

A new complaint has already been prepared, he added, saying: “I will take the complaint directly to the prime minister about Neang Sok Na’s brutal acts and attempt to kill an innocent person if it is ignored by the Ministry of Interior’s inspection and court officials. I could not be silent. I must pursue justice for him,” Om Heng said.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodia Centre for Human Rights, said, “There must be some irregularities if it is found that a court prosecutor was acting as a broker to persuade a complainant to accept money to drop a criminal complaint,” he said. “He has no function to do that.”

Ou Virak added that a prosecutor’s role is “to conduct a thorough investigation by collecting evidence from police about the incident, as this was a criminal matter”.

Ou Virak has previously asked that the court guarantee the accused be charged. “If the court prosecutor fails to prosecute the men, it will show that the culture of impunity still remains a concern,” he said.

Deputy court prosecutor Sok Roeun refused to comment on the allegations when he was contacted on Monday.

The original complaint was thumb-printed by nearly 50 people who witnessed the December 13 incident.



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