More than two weeks after the slaying of 29-year-old Mao Sok Chan in clashes at Phnom Penh’s Kbal Thnal overpass, police have yet to launch an internal investigation into the use of force, officials said yesterday.
National military police spokesman Kheng Tito said he had no knowledge of any progress in the case and was not even sure whether the Permanent Security Committee had decided to open a special committee to investigate the case.
“Currently, I have received no updated reports on this case,” Tito told the Post.
On September 15, the construction worker and father of four was shot in the head while trying to return home during a night protest turned violent at the Kbal Thnal overpass. In addition to his death, numerous people were injured by police wielding electric prods and batons and shooting live ammunition to disperse what they claimed was a violent mob.
Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap directed questions to the Permanent Security Committee yesterday, citing a busy schedule due to floods along the Mekong River.
Just days after the incident, Yeap told the Post that intra-party negotiations were the reason for the hold-up.
“An investigation into the military police response will be held in a few days,” Yeap said at the time.
Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, and National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith could not be reached for comment yesterday.
When asked if any efforts were being made to find the culprits involved in the killing, Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said he “was not following the case”.
For Sok Chan’s family, however, the lack of answers has been harrowing.
“I have called again and again for authorities to find justice for my son and punish the criminals with strong sentences, but nothing has happened,” his mother, Sith Chan, said.
“I don’t know if authorities have taken any measures to investigate the case of my son [or] find and arrest the gunman,” she said, adding that relevant authorities had not reached out to her with any updates or new information about the shooting.
If any approach is being taken by local authorities, rights groups have heard nothing, affirmed Preap Kol, executive director of the Cambodia office of Transparency International, a global social accountability NGO.
“I’m sure the status of this investigation will be delayed further because of the holiday [Pchum Ben]. We can only hope the UN Human Rights Council continues pushing for a follow-up,” Kol told the Post yesterday.
In the days following the shooting, relevant officials and authorities have continuously cited Sok Chan’s death as being “under investigation”, a buzz phrase that means little, according to Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.
“I doubt this case is truly under investigation. We have seen no real attempts made by any relevant authorities,” he said.