Like thousands of teenagers over the Khmer New Year break, Koh Kong native Eng Ly Chhay got a little splash-happy, but unlike those others, his house was soon surrounded by 10 police officers seeking the 17-year-old’s arrest.
“They showed us the handcuffs and I panicked,” recalled his aunt Vun Soknat yesterday.
Ly Chhay had allegedly been dousing passing drivers with friends on April 14 when the fun devolved into a dispute with five motorists, whose motorbikes were slightly damaged in a clash as tempers flared and stones were thrown by both sides.
Ly Chhay’s family say they agreed to pay for the damage and their son was let go, though police soon decided the matter wasn’t finished. On April 16, Ly Chhay’s father, Mang Piseth, visited officers to straighten things out. “The [police], locked me up in the room for about three hours until my son came in to replace me,” he said.
Lay Meng Laing, head of Koh Kong criminal police, claimed the family – who, he complained, had scolded officers – had not offered to pay for the damage, meaning Ly Chhay, who was detained on April 17, “must be arrested”.
Sinat, the aunt, claimed a court “clerk said if we have got $2,000 then he would help to convince the judge and the prosecutor for us”, an accusation clerk Chhin Long denied.
What’s more, since Ly Chhay’s father complained to the rights group Adhoc, a local police colonel, Khem Saneto, has demanded Adhoc coordinator Niep Sam Oeun remove a Facebook post defending the 17-year-old. “I will correct the article after the boy gets released from the prison,” Sam Oeun said.