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Inquiry sought into Pursat inmate’s ‘suicide’

The relatives of a prisoner who authorities say committed suicide in Pursat Provincial Prison this week intend to file a complaint to the court seeking an investigation into the death.

Touch Vannaret, 29, of Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district, was sentenced to three years for drug dealing in May 2014. On Monday, authorities say he hanged himself in the shower area of Pursat prison with a towel.

But Vannaret’s brother, Touch Vannara, said yesterday that his sibling was not suicidal and had called him the evening before he died, on a fellow inmate’s phone, requesting money to swap cells as he was being beaten.

He did not specify who the alleged assailant was, Vannara said. “My brother did not want to die; if he wanted to die, why did he call me to ask for help?” he said.

Phuong Sothea, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, which is helping with legal support on the case, said yesterday that after examining the official cause-of-death findings, the case appeared “more likely” a murder than a suicide.

Adhoc is working with the family to file their court complaint.

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