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Military police accused of assault and extortion

A district military police commander in Kampong Speu province has been arrested along with three subordinates for allegedly attacking two men and shooting one of them after the pair refused their attempted extortion at a checkpoint.

Nhorn Thol, deputy chief of the military police criminal office in Kampong Speu, said the four were arrested on Saturday after the incident in Samrong Tong district’s Samrong Tong commune. He said Seng Vansak, acting commander of the Samrong Tong district military police, was being held along with deputy commander Sun Srun and two other military police officers.

“They were arrested based on the complaints of the victims’ families,” Nhorn Thol said. “They are now being detained at the provincial military police headquarters for questioning and further investigation before they are sent to court for charges on Monday or Tuesday.”

Samrong Tong district police chief Khuth Sophal said the incident had occurred on Saturday when charcoal vendors Suon Chanthy, 21, and Men Bora, 19, were attempting to transport their wares from Kampong Speu to Phnom Penh and they arrived at a checkpoint in O’Korki village staffed by Seng Vansak and his subordinates.

“The victims were forced to pay 15,000 riel (US$3.68) to the group of four military policeman, but they refused to pay since they had no money because they had already paid for many checkpoints along the road,” Khuth Sophal said. As the vendors attempted to drive past, he added, “Seng Vansak shot at them with his AK-47 and then they were detained and beaten by the group of policemen”.

Suon Chanthy was wounded in the left leg and is now recovering at Preah Kossamak hospital in Phnom Penh, while Men Bora sustained a head injury after being pistol-whipped and is now staying at a referral hospital in Kampong Speu, Khuth Sophal said.

Rath Thavy, Kampong Speu provincial coordinator for the local rights group Adhoc, said he was in the process of investigating the case and was prepared to assist the victims.

“I would like to appeal to the court to strongly punish and jail [the suspects],” Roth Thavy said. “This is a message for both police and military police to stop committing these bad acts.”

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