A group of four military police officers from Kampong Speu province accused of shooting one man and injuring another after the pair refused to pay a bribe at a checkpoint have been released from custody after paying compensation to the victims.
A human rights activist in Kampong Speu slammed the release as an abuse of the judicial system.
The quartet of officers includes Seng Vansak, the acting commander of the Samrong Tong district military police in Kampong Speu, Sun Srun, the deputy district commander, and two subordinates. They were arrested last month after allegedly assaulting charcoal vendors Suon Chanthy, 21, and Men Bora, 19, who were attempting to pass through a checkpoint without paying bribes demanded by the officers.
Nhorn Thol, deputy chief of the military police criminal office in Kampong Speu, said yesterday that the men had been released after paying Suon Chanthy US$3,500 and Men Bora $500.
“They were released because they have paid compensation to the victims and the victims have withdrawn their complaint against them,” Nhorn Thol said.
“Although they have been released, they have been temporarily suspended from their jobs and are now under strict control of the provincial military police.”
Suon Chanthy was sent to Phnom Penh’s Preah Kossamak hospital after allegedly being shot in the leg with an AK-47 by Seng Vansak, while Men Bora recovered in Kampong Speu after allegedly being pistol-whipped in the head.
Suon Chanthy was offered $4,000 in compensation last week but said at the time that he had declined the offer, demanding $5,000 instead.
Rath Thavy, Kampong Speu provincial coordinator for the local rights group Adhoc, said yesterday that there was no justification for the officers’ release. “They have shot, injured and beaten the villagers. They should be arrested and sent to court,” Rath Thavy said. “I think their release will affect the implementation of the law in Cambodia.”
Kampong Speu provincial prosecutor Khuth Sopheang said last week that he would consider seeking a complaint even if the suspects paid compensation. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.