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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Corpse shows signs of torture

Corpse shows signs of torture

THE exhumation and forensic examination of the body of a local man in Kompong Cham

has confirmed he was severely beaten before dying in police custody.

Liv Peng An, 42, was arrested January 13 by local police in Kroch Chmar district

on suspicion of murder and was later "discovered" hanging by the neck from

his own trousers which had been tied to bars fixed to the cell wall.

He was taken into custody after a friend told police he was an accomplice in the

murder, but human rights workers say his identity was revealed only after his friend

had been tortured by police.

The man who had been tortured, and another, have subsequently been each sentenced

to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay a total of 30 million riels compensation

for their part in the murder of a woman who, according to a number of sources, was

the cousin of the provincial governor's wife.

A spokesperson for the human rights NGO Licadho said Peng An was held without charge

for 55 hours before his death, seven hours longer than what Cambodian law demands.

"We were suspicious from the very beginning," the rights worker said. "How

can you hang yourself if you are handcuffed? And why would a policeman handcuff the

body of a man after he was found dead in his cell?

"Family members and monks who were called by police to remove his body also

noted Peng An's body showed signs of serious beating. He appeared to have a broken

jaw, contusions to the left side of the head and the right side of his rib cage was

badly "dented" and bruised.

"But the family just buried the body. They were too frightened to make any official

complaint."

The exhumation of Peng An's body was conducted on August 22 by a military doctor

and in the presence of provincial officials and representatives of local and international

human rights groups.

Forensic examination found no evidence of a broken jaw or skull, but discovered six

broken ribs on the right side of the chest.

Human rights groups completed their investigations into the incident in February

and took their evidence to authorities in both Kompong Cham and Phnom Penh.

However, there was no official action taken until after a human rights conference

which was held in the provincial capital in early August.

At that conference, co-Minister of Interior You Hockry reportedly undertook to push

for an official investigation and promised to bring the police concerned before the

courts.

Under orders from the Interior Ministry, local authorities set up an investigation

committee headed by third Deputy Governor, So Nat. The Inspector of District police

in Kroch Cham has been suspended from duty until the committee has concluded a report

which will be sent to the Interior Ministry.

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