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Hok Lundy eyewitnesses claim arrest for thefts at crash scene

Hok Lundy eyewitnesses claim arrest for thefts at crash scene

Helicopter crash witness claims he has been arrested on suspicion of pocketing property belonging to late National Police chief Hok Lundy

FIVE eyewitnesses to the helicopter crash that killed National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy were arrested by police in Svay Rieng's Romdoul district Tuesday, accused of stealing property from the scene of the accident, according to one of the accused.

"Today, Romdoul district police arrested me and accused me of keeping Hok Lundy's property," said Hing Phon, 47, a resident of Romdoul's Prey Keav village.

"Police accused us of keeping [Hok Lundy's] ring, belt and one of his guns ... but I saw only one wallet with $70 and Thai currency, and I gave it to the authorities at the scene."

The former police chief was killed when his helicopter lost control in heavy rain and crashed into an empty field on the night of November 9.

Hing Phon, who claims he was one of the first to come to the aid of the victims after the crash, said he would be sent to Svay Rieng provincial court Saturday to answer the charges.

"If we do not confess, they will put us in jail, but I'm not worried because I didn't do it," he said.

Meas Chork, police chief of Romdoul district, said the five witnesses had just been invited for questioning about what they did during the air crash, and that if anything was taken from the scene of the accident, it could be returned.

"In the morning, when we asked them to give everything back, they gave us one GPS unit. We have not arrested them, but only invited them to answer," he said. "We need to conduct investigations. We will not mistreat them, and I never said to them that they will be sued in the provincial court."

Kheut Phally, a provincial monitor for local rights group Licadho, said the charges as described by the accused were no grounds for arrest.

"Whether they give something back or not is up to the people. They cannot force them," she said. "There is no case for arresting them."

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