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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Suspicious prison death provokes cover-up charge

Suspicious prison death provokes cover-up charge

The apparent suicide of a prisoner found hanging from a towel in a prison bathroom on Monday is being challenged as a homicide cover-up by a local human rights group.

The charge stemmed from strange details in the autopsy report of the body of Tov Vannar, 26.

The report, which concluded that Vannar died from suffocation, mentions blood found on the victim’s left leg from “ant bites”.

“It is impossible because ants cannot cause a victim to bleed,” said Phuong Sothear, Pursat provincial coordinator of Adhoc. “[Furthermore], the victim is 1.6 meters tall. The ledge is at 1.88 meters. He must have had step up on something to commit suicide. But inside the bathroom there is nothing which can be used [for that]... So it is not a suicide case, it is more likely a murder,” he said.

Vannar, who was charged with drug dealing in 2014, had reportedly been peddling narcotics inside the prison, said Sothear, who speculated the prisoner could have been murdered by prison officials for his drug dealing.

Ouk Kemchon, director of the 4th Correctional Center in Phnom Kravanh district, Pursat province denied the cover-up charge and speculated that Vannar’s suicide was likely due to personal problems with his family.

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