Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Family alleges prison guards tortured relative to death



Family alleges prison guards tortured relative to death

Family alleges prison guards tortured relative to death

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081124_05.jpg

The mother of a 24-year-old accused of stealing a chicken says her son was fatally beaten while in custody at Prey Sar

Photo by:
HENG CHIVOAN

The outside of Phnom Penh's Prey Sar prison. The mother of a recently-deceased inmate has accused guards of torture.

THE mother of a 24-year-old man who died in hospital after being arrested on charges of robbery says that her son's death was the result of torture by guards at Prey Sar prison.

An Bakea told the Post Sunday that her son, Heng Touch, died Friday at Calmette Hospital after being severely injured during his detention while under investigation by the court.

"Prison officials tortured my son to death. I am sure they killed him because my son told me in hospital before he died that he was caught by prison guards and they pushed him against a wall," she said.  

"His head was bleeding and swollen ... because prison officials had hit his head against a wall and his chest with a piece of steel," she added.

Mom Kim Heng, director of Prey Sar prison, denied the accusations Sunday, saying it was an exaggeration.

"It is not true at all that our officers tortured her son to death. He hit his head on the wall many times and he also tried to cut his tongue," he told the Post.

"We have a duty to take care of him and other prisoners. There is no reason for our men to torture him to death."

Heng Touch was sent from Prey Sar prison to Monivong municipal hospital on November 15 and was moved to Calmette hospital on November 17, where he died Friday evening.

"I pity my son because he died after he was accused of stealing a chicken. He did not steal a chicken," An Bakea said.

She claimed that her son was hired as a driver by a man she believed was a thief at the end of October. He was then arrested by police and

accused of robbery. Despite her faith in his innocence, she says she will not complain.

"I will get nothing if I file a complaint to the court because my son is already dead, and I have no money to pay the court for this case," she said.

Chan Soveth, an investigator for the Cambodian rights NGO Adhoc, said Sunday he also believed Heng Touch's death to be the result of prison abuse.

"I am sure that his death is from torture because ... his head was bleeding and swollen," he said.

"We would like an independent investigation because the victim told his mother before he died that he was tortured," Chan Soveth added. 

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