Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Caged soldier suffers third-degree burns

Caged soldier suffers third-degree burns

Caged soldier suffers third-degree burns

130222 02
A soldier who fell victim to a fire while being detained for disciplinary reasons in Oddar Meanchey province receives treatment at a hospital in Phnom Penh, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

A soldier based in Oddar Meanchey was sent to a Phnom Penh Hospital this week after receiving third-degree burns while incarcerated in a cage for disciplinary reasons.

Neither the victim, 20-year-old Ok Khouch, nor his commanders have said whether it was an intentional attack.

Able to speak only in whispers, Khouch told a reporter that he would not file a complaint as he knew there was “no intention to burn me”.

“I did not notice how I was burned, because there were tree leaves covering the cage where I was detained,” said Khouch, whose legs, arms and back are covered in painful blisters. “The fire spread to me, but a man helped to find keys to unlock me.”

Yong Lun, Khouch’s commander at Military Brigade 442, said he could not comment on the incident but confirmed that one soldier was “burnt by cigarette fire” before rushing to turn off the phone.

According to Khouch’s mother, Nong Yan, the soldier was put in the cage after getting into an altercation with another soldier.

“My son was punished by being put in the cage. What type of rule is this?” she said.Yan said she believed the fire to be accidental but was dismayed by the lack of attention from his superiors – none of whom have visited Khouch or offered to help cover his mounting hospital bills.

“The military commander has said nothing. We don’t have an issue with anyone who caused this, because my son just considered it bad luck, but why did his commander keep him detained in the bird’s cage and then not care about him when he was burnt?”

While Khuoch brushed off the detention, saying that it was an ordinary disciplinary practice, rights workers were aghast.

“To detain a man in a cage is a form of torture,” said Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for rights group Licadho, adding that although the victim did not file a lawsuit, authorities should investigate the detention, as it was “inappropriate punishment”.

Lieutenant General Chhin Chanpor, deputy military commander in charge of the troops at Ta Moan, said he was too busy to comment, while Neak Vong, military commander of the brigade, denied any such incident occurred.

“It’s just a rumour,” he said. “Nothing happened.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at [email protected]
With assistance from Cheang Sokha

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • China-Cambodia tourism forum held

    The Cambodian tourism sector must be prepared to welcome a growing number of Chinese tourists, as they lead the globe in the number of outbound travellers and were responsible for the most visitors to the Kingdom last year, the country’s tourism minister said on