National military police are launching an investigation into units in Tbong Khmum and Prey Veng provinces, following an incident in which authorities shot at, arrested and allegedly tortured two men transporting rice along National Road 11, military police spokesman Kheng Tito said yesterday.
While police reported that the truck drivers attempted to escape from a weighing station, refused to cooperate with police and caused a traffic accident, conflicting reports of the event, and the circulation of graphic images of the alleged abuse in local media, have raised questions as to whether the police response was appropriate.
On March 19 at about 9pm, Nen Sida, 30, and his nephew, Thouen Neub, 20, were driving a large Hyundai truck from Tbong Khmum province to Prey Veng province, when they reached an unusual police checkpoint, according to the driver’s older brother, Nen San.
“My brother said he thought those military police were bad people, because that site never had police or a car-weighing station before,” said San, explaining that his brother refused to stop the vehicle, fearing robbers impersonating police.
The police fired 10 bullets, shooting the front windshield and the truck’s tyre, San said, before describing how his brother and nephew were arrested, handcuffed, and allegedly beaten so severely they began to vomit blood. They were held by police for a day before being released.
San said that he has submitted the case to local police and the rights group Adhoc based in Prey Veng. He also plans to submit a complaint to the provincial court.
Sreng Chea, of the Prey Veng provincial police, also noted that while Sida was fleeing, he panicked and lost control of the truck, hitting a white Camry, causing the car to hit a pedestrian, who was slightly injured.
“Based on my inspection, the military police were wrong.… They should process this case by the law. Gunfire [should] only happen when the opposite side has gun,” said Chea. “The military police used too much force.”
Adhoc coordinator Eang Kimly said the group was weighing whether to hire a lawyer to pursue the complaint in court.