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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Police pay family of murdered SRP activist

Police pay family of murdered SRP activist

THE boss of a policeman wanted for the murder of an opposition party activist in Kampong Cham province earlier this month has paid compensation in a bid to have the case closed, said the victim's commune Chief Prak Vanny.

Prak Vanny said the family of the victim, 45-year-old Van Veth, had come to his office last week accompanied by Nhek Sony, the police chief of Battalion 617, to request that the commune chief sign to acknowledge the payment.

Van Veth, who was an activist with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party in Choam commune, was shot dead on March 4 in broad daylight by In Pheang, a policeman in Battalion 617. In Pheang has since been on the run.

Prak Vanny said police chief Nhek Sony had paid the family 5.5 million riels (US$1,350). However, the commune chief said the payment was irrelevant since the killing was a criminal case and would have to go to court.

"Nhek Sony took five-and-a half million riels to pay the victim's family and tried to close the case. They asked me to sign it and acknowledge this deal, but I refused," the Sam Rainsy Party commune chief said. "On behalf of the authorities, I must follow the legal route. I cannot compromise and close the case."

The Post on Sunday was unable to reach Nhek Sony for comment. But the provincial police chief, Nuon Samin, claimed the cash payment was to cover the family's funeral expenses as the investigation is ongoing. "My police are seeking to arrest the perpetrator," he said.

Provincial head of investigations at the rights group Licadho, Bu Vireak, said compensation could not terminate a criminal case.

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