Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Inquiry into prison death afoot

Inquiry into prison death afoot

Kandal prison inmate Mut Linan at the time of his arrest last month. Linan died in prison under suspicious circumstances in mid-December. Photo supplied
Kandal prison inmate Mut Linan at the time of his arrest last month. Linan died in prison under suspicious circumstances in mid-December. Photo supplied

Inquiry into prison death afoot

The Kandal Provincial Court and the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons yesterday said they will investigate the suspicious death of a 31-year-old inmate at the Kandal Provincial Prison after the victim’s mother filed a complaint casting doubt on the official version of events.

Long Vanny, 53, the mother of inmate Mut Linan, said that on December 27, a lawyer she hired filed a complaint to the court to “find the truth” about her son’s demise. Officials, she said, had told her that her son had committed “suicide” by jumping from a 1.2-metre water tank inside his cell – a death seemingly inconsistent with the grievous injuries he sustained.

Linan hadn’t even been convicted of a crime. He was awaiting trial after being arrested last month for allegedly throwing bricks at a relative’s home over a longstanding dispute.

“My son was normal. He didn’t have any mental problems,” she said, disputing the notion he would kill himself. “On the 15th of December, I visited him at the prison and he said I shouldn’t worry because it was a small thing and he wouldn’t be in jail for long.”

The next day, however, she received a call from the prison to inform her that her son had been taken to Chey Chumneas Hospital.

“When I got there, I saw many bruises on his face, his teeth were broken, his eye balls [sunk in] and still bloody and his neck [was] broken,” she said, adding that he also had bruises on his body.

Nouth Savna, deputy director-general of the General Department of Prisons, said he had recently received the preliminary report on the fatality from the prison’s director, Chat Sineang.

There is no “final conclusion” on what caused the death, and a technical team is scheduled to go to the prison to investigate soon, Savna said. According to the report, at 9:15am on December 16, three inmates brought Linan to the prison clinic and a guard transferred him to Chey Chumneas hosptial, but he died 15 minutes later.

“There is a lack of information in this case,” he said.

Prison Director Sineang said a “team leader” in the cell, who is also an inmate and in charge of alerting guards to any problems, claimed the victim got on top of the water tank and “fell”.

“In this case, we did not receive any information [of a problem], and just found [the inmates] carrying the man, and they said he fell off the water tank.”

The prison guards stand about 10 metres from the cell, Sineang said. Ten inmates have already been questioned, and offered the same story, he added. “I got a call from a prosecutor and I told him that the court has to investigate this case because this is not normal,” he said. “We are not sure whether he fell from the water tank or something happened in the cell.”

Tin Sochetra, spokesperson for the Kandal prosecutors’ office, confirmed an investigation was underway.

Chak Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said “a prompt investigation by an independent and impartial body is essential”, and said the “investigation must also include a medical examination”.

She added that pre-trial detention should be avoided as much as possible, particularly in cases where the accused is charged with a minor offence, like Linan.

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42

  • Hun Sen gets 4th Covid shot, urges compatriots to follow

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on January 14 received their fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine and called on compatriots to follow suit as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the community. This marks the launch of Cambodia's fourth-dose vaccination campaign,

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer