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Court hears case of cop-on-cop violence

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Sao Panha, 33, a major in the Anti-Cybercrime Department, was arrested on January 10. Fresh News

Court hears case of cop-on-cop violence

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday heard the case against a police official in the cybercrime division who beat a traffic police officer early this year.

The accused, Sao Panha, 33, a major in the Anti-Cybercrime Department, was arrested on January 10, a day after he beat a traffic officer during a verbal argument after being stopped for running a red light in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district.

CCTV footage of the incident, which went viral on social media, shows a man pushing the traffic cop, later identified as traffic police officer Eurng Chamnan. Chamnan is then shown kneeling and presumably begging for forgiveness. But the accused, Panha, continues to kick him, while Channa made bowing gestures.

Panha was charged with intentional violence with aggravating circumstances and the “unauthorised use of a badge as determined by public authorities”, according to articles 218 and 614 of the Criminal Code.

In the hearing, Panha confessed to having beaten Chamnan because the victim used insulting language during the dispute. He requested the court to lighten the sentence, explaining that he had two young children to care for.

In testimony, Chamnan said there was a quarrel between him and the accused the day before the incident, but he did not elaborate.

“He walked up to me and beat me then kicked me. We did not have vindictiveness before. I did not insult him on January 8. On that day when I was easing the traffic, he cursed me. He said ‘Do you know who I am?’” Chamnan told the court. Chamnan also did not elaborate what happened on January 8; he just said there was a small problem.

Som Sereyvuth, a co-worker of Chamnan’s, said Panha came to him and asked for Chamnan. “When [Panha] called Chamnan to come, the accused kicked the victim,” Sereyvuth said.

Judge Koa Vandy had harsh words for both parties. Addressing Chamnan , Judge Vandy said, “The police must never use foul language to others, even if they insult you.”

To Panha, he said: “You too, he kneeled in front of you to apologise, why did you still kick him?”

The verdict is due to be handed down on June 7.

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