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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Jailed teen dies; rights group calls for probe

Jailed teen dies; rights group calls for probe

An ethnic Jarai prisoner in Ratanakkiri province has died in what a rights group suggested were suspicious circumstances after being sent to a local hospital complaining of dizziness and a stomach ache, officials said.

Rochom P’Chet, aged 15, was charged with murder in June, and was pronounced dead at the provincial referral hospital at about 11:30am on Saturday.

Cha Ta Ngang, vice chief of the prison, said that the boy had died on the way to receive treatment.

“He got dizzy and we tried to send him to the hospital for help, but he passed away on the way,” he said.

“He was only sent to the prison in June on murder charges, but his case hadn’t been heard yet.”

A local human rights worker, however, questioned the circumstances of the death, adding that he would launch an investigation to determine what happened to the teenager.

Chhay Thy, the Ratanakkiri provincial coordinator for Adhoc, also said he suspected that poor prison conditions had brought on P’Chet’s illness.

“As we know, [he] was sent to prison healthy and rarely got ill before, but he died quickly from a stomachache on Saturday,” Thy said.

“So we suspect that he contracted cholera due to the poor hygiene in the prison, because most prisoners complain of diarrhoea and stomach aces.”

He added that usually when prisoners fall ill the guards do not send them to hospital, suggesting that P’Chet must have been in a serious condition before he left the jail.

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