Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Groups hail army convictions

Groups hail army convictions

Groups hail army convictions

T HREE soldiers were sentenced to between 10 and 13 years imprisonment by the

Kratie provincial court on May 23 for killing three civilians, including a seven

year old child. The conviction is seen as a small victory by human rights

organizations who took it as a test case in making the military more

accountable.

"The military usually act like they are above the law,

trying them for their misdeeds is very rare," says one foreign legal expert.

"The fact that they were tried is itself very encouraging."

The three

soldiers and their superior officer from the 22nd battalion in Kratie went on

trial for intentional manslaughter for killing three civilians and wounding

three others in Ban Teay village after a personal squabble.

According to

the human rights organization Vigilance, which investigated the case, four

soldiers Chan Reasmey, Mil Chan Vibol, Chan Thy and Ron were directly involved

in the killings. Ron escaped capture but Chan Reasmey and Chan Thy were given 13

years each, and Mil Chan Vibol 10.

Lieutenant Ear Kim Srin, their

commanding officer, who was held responsible for their behavior, will be tried

separately for violating army regulations by a military court.

The

incident occurred after a quarrel at about 4:30 pm on April 11, when a group of

eight soldiers from Battalion 22 came into the village and one of them,

reportedly Chan Reasmey, demanded a chicken from one of the villagers. The

villager apparently said his chicken had died.

The group left, but the

four soldiers returned at around 7:30 pm when a group of villagers were watching

a video outside. The soldiers were reportedly completely drunk and threatened to

kill a commune policeman on their way to the village.

One of the

soldiers then fired directly into the crowd of villagers watching video with his

AK 47. Another soldier reportedly used a B-40. They were arrested in mid- April

and turned over to the civilian court on April 21.

Vigilance, while

welcoming the prompt action and the military authorities' co-operation with the

civilian court, added in a statement, "It is hoped that this case will serve as

a lesson to the military not to abuse civilians."

Observers say the

arrest was made because wide publicity was given to the case in the media and

pressure was applied on the authorities by the villagers with the help of local

human rights organizations.

The villagers are reportedly afraid the

soldiers will escape from the Kratie prison, and the prosecutor's office has

asked that they be transferred to T3 prison in Phnom Penh. Vigilance has

requested security for the villagers.

While this trial is seen as an

exceptional case, two other killings have largely escaped public notice and the

accused have not been arrested.

A prisoner in Kratie provincial prison

was reportedly killed by a prison guard, who later said the prisoner was trying

to escape. Other prisoners present at the spot, however, refuted this claim.

The incident took place in late March in a field outside Kratie prison

where inmates grow crops. A local human rights organization said that despite

investigations by the Ministries of Justice and Interior, the guard Touch Darin

has not been arrested.

In fact the organizations say he has received a

promotion.

One source who visited the area and spoke to the guard said he

was unrepentant. "It is unlikely that anything will be done without instructions

from the Ministries, the case will simply be buried," the source said.

A

third killing last month of a Funcinpec policeman has seen a similar fate.

The policeman was apparently murdered after a personal dispute with the

son-in-law of the deputy district chief in Kratie. The deputy chief belongs to

the CPP.

While no political motive has been established, the accused has

not be arrested even though police conducted an investigation the next

day.

One source who visited Kratie says that there are people who wish to

prosecute both the accused, but are afraid of the consequences.

"Such

people have no support from the local police or authorities, and none from

Ministries in Phnom Penh. They are alone and are afraid to take risks or speak

out," the source says.

MOST VIEWED

  • Rainsy stopped in Paris from boarding Thai flight

    Airline officials at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday prevented Sam Rainsy from boarding his flight to Bangkok ahead of his announced return to Cambodia on Saturday. Prime Minister Hun Sen had earlier in the day assured Phnom Penh residents that there would be

  • Analyst: Rainsy blocked from boarding flight 'an excuse'

    THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

  • Rainsy lands in Malaysia

    Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday afternoon after boarding a flight from Paris, where he has been living for more than four years. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Saturday that Cambodia respected

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle

  • Prayut indicates no entry into Thailand for CNRP’s Rainsy

    Cambodian government officials on Wednesday welcomed the position of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha after he indicated that Sam Rainsy would not be allowed to return to Cambodia through Thailand. “According to our commitment to Asean, we will not interfere in each other’s internal