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Families of dead inmates seek answers

Families of dead inmates seek answers

FAMILIES of three inmates who died within a five-day span earlier this month at Kampong Cham provincial prison have filed complaints with local rights group Adhoc on suspicion that mistreatment may have played a role in their relatives’ deaths.

Chan Soveth, a senior monitor for Adhoc, said yesterday that the families had filed complaints with his organisation earlier this week after discovering scars on the corpses of their relatives that they believed had resulted from abuse.

“The families who received their relatives’ bodies saw scars on the necks and legs of the deceased, so they suspected that their relatives were tortured in prison because they were poor and had no money to bribe prison guards,” Chan Soveth said.

Sim Meng – the son-in-law of 47-year-old Kong Kert, who died at Kampong Cham prison earlier this month – said prison guards had cremated Kong Kert’s body before his family could examine it, fuelling suspicions about mistreatment. Repeated requests for guards to grant Kong Kert medical treatment had been ignored over the past few months, Sim Meng said.

“As my father-in-law got sick, I asked the guards to give him treatment at the hospital, but they didn’t listen – they let him die in the cell,” Sim Meng said.

Kampong Cham provincial prison director Hou Puthvisal declined to comment yesterday when asked about the deceased prisoners. “Everything has been finished already,” he said.

Heng Hak, director general of the General Department of Prisons at the Ministry of Interior, could not be reached for comment.

According to a report from Kampong Cham prison, five inmates at the facility died between July 7 and July 11. The causes of death were listed as Hepatitis B, tuberculosis, high blood pressure, heart attack and respiratory failure.

A report issued last week by the Ministry of Interior stated that 41 inmates nationwide had died during the first six months of this year, and warned that overcrowding posed a major threat to the welfare of the Kingdom’s inmates.

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