THE exhumation and forensic examination of the body of a local man in Kompong Cham
has confirmed he was severely beaten before dying in police custody.
Liv Peng An, 42, was arrested January 13 by local police in Kroch Chmar district
on suspicion of murder and was later "discovered" hanging by the neck from
his own trousers which had been tied to bars fixed to the cell wall.
He was taken into custody after a friend told police he was an accomplice in the
murder, but human rights workers say his identity was revealed only after his friend
had been tortured by police.
The man who had been tortured, and another, have subsequently been each sentenced
to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay a total of 30 million riels compensation
for their part in the murder of a woman who, according to a number of sources, was
the cousin of the provincial governor's wife.
A spokesperson for the human rights NGO Licadho said Peng An was held without charge
for 55 hours before his death, seven hours longer than what Cambodian law demands.
"We were suspicious from the very beginning," the rights worker said. "How
can you hang yourself if you are handcuffed? And why would a policeman handcuff the
body of a man after he was found dead in his cell?
"Family members and monks who were called by police to remove his body also
noted Peng An's body showed signs of serious beating. He appeared to have a broken
jaw, contusions to the left side of the head and the right side of his rib cage was
badly "dented" and bruised.
"But the family just buried the body. They were too frightened to make any official
The exhumation of Peng An's body was conducted on August 22 by a military doctor
and in the presence of provincial officials and representatives of local and international
human rights groups.
Forensic examination found no evidence of a broken jaw or skull, but discovered six
broken ribs on the right side of the chest.
Human rights groups completed their investigations into the incident in February
and took their evidence to authorities in both Kompong Cham and Phnom Penh.
However, there was no official action taken until after a human rights conference
which was held in the provincial capital in early August.
At that conference, co-Minister of Interior You Hockry reportedly undertook to push
for an official investigation and promised to bring the police concerned before the
Under orders from the Interior Ministry, local authorities set up an investigation
committee headed by third Deputy Governor, So Nat. The Inspector of District police
in Kroch Cham has been suspended from duty until the committee has concluded a report
which will be sent to the Interior Ministry.