National Police chief Neth Savoeun has temporarily suspended seven Prey Vang anti-drug department officers accused of assaulting and demanding money from citizens.
Savoeun issued a press release naming the officers – provincial deputy police chief Thong Vandy, Anti-drug department director Pov Chivoan, Anti-drug department deputy director Tuoch Theara, chief of the Anti-Drug Bureau Si Bo and three more.
“All the people named in the release must be present every working hour at the Prey Veng police office waiting for a decision,” said Savoeun.
National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said on Tuesday that Savoeun decided to punish the seven for not acting professionally or following ethical values.
“These seven policed drugs, but they did their job opposite to the professionalism expected of the National Police. They caused injuries to suspects.
“[Neth] Savoeun ordered the leaders of all municipal and provincial police to enhance discipline of the National Police forces in the Kingdom. They must not forgive any police officials who do not follow discipline and professionalism. They will have to face legal action,” Kim Khoeun said.
Two men, Thai Sameath and Phoeun Rath from Choeung Teuk commune, Prey Veng town, said in a Facebook video they were detained by the police on July 20. They were released on July 21 after their parents handed over four million riel ($1,000) to Theara.
Rath said he was riding a motorbike with Sameath, and Theara who was riding behind them ordered them to stop the motorbike and then threatened them with a gun.
Sameath warned he would take a video. Theara made a phone call and three other police officers arrived and hit the men before taking them to a police station.
He also said Theara tortured them in custody by beating them with sticks and using electric batons on their thighs. They then called their parents to bring two million riel each to take them home.
“They hit me and took my urine to test for drugs. They accused me of being a drug addict. I have never been involved with drugs so I checked and the Prey Veng provincial hospital confirmed I had no known drug substances in my body.
“I even checked at Institut Pasteur du Cambodge and the result was the same,” said Sameath.
Kim Khoeun said Theara was involved in cases affecting six families in Reang district. The other six police officers are involved in one or two cases.
The National Police website said on Monday that Prey Veng provincial police chief Prum Santhor apologised to the families and returned the money in Mesar Brachan commune, Pea Reang district, in Prey Veng.
Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun said the case involves ethics, corruption and abuse of power. He called for better management of law enforcement officers to prevent such problems.
“It is good that the ministry and senior leaders punished the officers for their crimes and set an example for other authorities. This is a reflection of effective and fair action to increase trust,” said Chanroeun.