PHNOM Penh Municipal Court on Friday charged a senior police official with unintentional murder in the death of one of his subordinates, who perished last week, apparently having consumed poisoned beer, a court official said Sunday.
Deputy court prosecutor Sok Roeun said Neang Sokna, deputy police chief of the Phnom Penh Minor Crimes bureau, had been ordered to serve pretrial detention, adding that he faced between one and three years in prison if found guilty.
In December, Neang Sokna was accused of assaulting a mechanic, who filed a criminal complaint against him. That incident occurred after the mechanic, 25-year-old Phat Dara, shouted at children playing in the street to get out of the way of speeding vehicles, witnesses said. Neang Sokna was reportedly one of the drivers, and witnesses said he stopped his car and beat Phat Dara on the head and hands with his gun.
Sok Roeun, who was at one point accused of offering Phat Dara a bribe to drop his complaint against Neang Sokna – a charge he denied – hung up the phone before a reporter could ask him about the status of the complaint on Sunday.
Song Ly, the chief of the Minor Crimes Bureau, said Sunday that Neang Sokna had been suspended since last December because of the investigation into the complaint filed by Phat Dara.
Neang Sokna denied any role in the assault, though 50 witnesses thumbprinted a statement saying they had seen him pistol-whipping Phat Dara.
Neang Sokna is now accused of organising a beer-drinking session that resulted in the death of 37-year-old Tim Satya, an officer in the Minor Crimes Bureau, and the hospitalisation of four other officers.
The beer is believed to have been poisoned. The four hospitalised officers have recovered.
Nach Try, Neang Sokna’s defence lawyer, said he was in the process of investigating the charges against his client.
“If I can prove that the court prosecutor’s charge against my client was unjust, I will request that the judge lift the charges against him during the pretrial investigation,” he said.